The impact of tinnitus upon cognition in adults: A systematic review

Tegg-Quinn, S. et al. International Journal of Audiology. Published online: 31 May 2016

Objective: To systematically review and analyse experimental outcomes of studies exploring the impact of tinnitus upon cognitive function and their implications for clinical management of invasive tinnitus.

Design: A systematic and descriptive review.

Study sample: Eighteen studies were identified investigating the impact of tinnitus on cognitive function.

Results: The 18 studies evaluated cognitive function using 24 different objective behavioural tests, nine electrophysiological recordings, one oculomotor test, and one self-report questionnaire. The studies spanned 18 years and revealed numerous interactions potentially contributing to the cognitive difficulties frequently reported by people with invasive tinnitus. The studies indicate a clear association between tinnitus and aspects of cognitive function, specifically the executive control of attention.

Conclusions: Tinnitus impairs cognitive function by way of impact upon executive control of attention. Clinical management of patients reporting tinnitus and cognitive difficulties requires an understanding of the reciprocal relationship between tinnitus and cognitive function, with additive effects of anxiety, depression, and somatic cognitive bias. Further study is required to establish the impact of advancing age, hearing loss, anxiety, depression tinnitus duration, and distress upon cognitive function in people with invasive tinnitus.

Read the abstract here

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