The effect of cochlear implants on cognitive decline in ageing Australians

Project Details

Over half of Australia’s population aged between 60 and 70 years is affected by hearing loss.   This number increases to more than 70% of those over age of 70 years and to 80% in people over the age of 80 years.   The impact of hearing loss on quality of life is significant, with several studies showing that hearing loss has adverse effects on other aspects of health.   A further and common disorder that occurs in people with or without hearing loss is cognitive impairment.  Hearing loss has been shown recently to be associated independently with the rate of cognitive decline for elderly adults, with people with hearing loss showing 30-40% accelerated rate of cognitive decline, and a 24% increased risk for cognitive impairment over a 6-year period, compared with people who had normal hearing.

The University of Melbourne is conducting research to investigate the effect of cochlear implants on cognitive function in ageing Australians. This research is funded by a Linkage Project from the Australian Research Council and by industry partner Cochlear Ltd (ARC Grant Number: LP150101180), working in collaboration with the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital and CogState Ltd.

Purpose of this Study

Given the strong relationship between hearing loss and cognitive decline, it is important to determine whether restoring hearing affects the predicted rate of cognitive decline.   The purposes of this project are to determine whether having a cochlear implant can have a protective or slowing effect for cognitive decline, and also to measure how cochlear implant use is associated with changes to people’s quality of life.

This study will also compare the cognitive function of cochlear implant recipients aged 60 years or older with that of a comparable cohort of Australians with normal hearing.

Participation in this Study

To be considered for study participation you must be

  • An adult aged 60 years or older
  • Have previously been assessed as eligible for one or two cochlear implant/s.
  • Have no signs of serious or debilitating mental dysfunction or decline
  • Able to read and fill in questionnaires
  • Willing and able to attend study visits

(If you have never had your hearing assessed or it is some time since your last hearing assessment, you will need to make an appointment with your local audiologist to discuss the suitability of a referral to the RVEEH Cochlear Implant Clinic before being considered eligible to participate in this study.)

A description of study procedures

The study will collect hearing, cognitive and quality of life data from participants both before and after their cochlear implant surgery.

Participants will be required to attend the Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology at 550 Swanston Street Carlton.   Reimbursement for associated travel costs and rereshments is available.

Initial visit

The initial visit will last approximately 2 hours.

Follow up visit

Subsequent visits will be scheduled at 18 monthly intervals for the 5 year duration of the study.   Participants will be required to attend the Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology at these 18 monthly intervals.


Chief Investigators

CI 1 Dr Julia Sarant (The University of Melbourne)

CI 2 Professor Paul Maruff (CogState Ltd)

CI 3 Professor David Harris (The University of Melbourne)

CI4 Professor Richard Dowell (The University of Melbourne)

CI5 Dr Peter Busby – Partner Investigator (Cochlear Ltd)

Associate Investigators

Dr Robert Briggs (Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital)

For more information about this study please contact CI 1 or one the research team members below:

Manasi Canagasabey
Ph: (03) 9035 7499

Lisa Bennet
Speech Pathologist
Ph: (03) 9035 6460


  • Cochlear Limited
  • The Cochlear Implant Clinic, The Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital
  • Cogstate Limited


ARC Linkage; LP150101180; $426,179

Research Group

Cochlear implants in adults and children

Faculty Research Themes

Child Health

School Research Themes

Child Health

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Audiology and Speech Pathology

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