Smoking and Aging Effects on the Auditory System

ID: 4106
School: School of Human Services and Sciences
Program: Hearing, Speech, and Language Sciences
Status: Ongoing
Start date: December 2020
End Date: April 2022


The impact of cigarette smoking on adults continues to be an international public health concern, and one of the leading causes of preventable disease. The link between cigarette smoking and exacerbation of chronic disease conditions, such as hearing loss, is starting to become more thoroughly documented in scientific literature. Aging is also known to play an important role in auditory and central nervous system changes over the lifespan. It is possible that audiologists could observe a higher proportion of smokers among their client caseloads as they reach advanced ages. The impacts of smoking and aging on the central nervous system are intertwined, and the combination of the two could have many effects on the auditory pathways of adults. One objective way to monitor the effects of extrinsic factors such as cigarette smoking and intrinsic factors such as biological aging on the central auditory nervous system is to measure an electrophysiological waveform called the auditory middle latency response (AMLR). In order to supplement the clinical and research utilizations of the AMLR, there is an ongoing need for additional knowledge about the effects of subject factors such as age and smoking behavior on the AMLR. The AMLR is an ideal measure for the current study because it reflects physiology of the auditory pathway; it is sensitive to age-related changes in the auditory central nervous system; and it is influenced by the same central structures with which nicotine interacts. Taking the known relationship between smoking, aging, and hearing loss into consideration for the current study, the researchers sought to evaluate the effects of long-term, chronic cigarette smoking compared to acute smoking by measuring the AMLR in younger (aged 19-29 years) versus older (aged 45-72 years) adults, including both smokers and nonsmokers. The current study intends to expand our understanding about how acute smoking effects might be influenced by stimulus type in four groups of participants: younger smokers, younger nonsmokers, older smokers, and older nonsmokers. AMLR waveforms collected from 22 participants are currently being analyzed using Evoked Potential (Intelligent Hearing Systems) software. The outcomes of this study could provide further information about the outcome of nicotine's effects on central auditory pathways, positive or negative.

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