Hearing loss impacts gray and white matter across the lifespan : Systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Article number117826
Journal / PublicationNeuroImage
Online published4 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021



Hearing loss is a heterogeneous disorder thought to affect brain reorganization across the lifespan. Here, structural alterations of the brain due to hearing loss are assessed by using unique effect size metrics based on Cohen's d and Hedges’ g. These metrics are used to map coordinates of gray matter (GM) and white matter (WM) alterations from bilateral congenital and acquired hearing loss populations. A systematic review and meta-analysis revealed m = 72 studies with structural alterations measured with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (bilateral = 64, unilateral = 8). The bilateral studies categorized hearing loss into congenital and acquired cases (n = 7,445) and control cases (n = 2,924), containing 66,545 datapoint metrics. Hearing loss was found to affect GM and underlying WM in nearly every region of the brain. In congenital hearing loss, GM decreased most in the frontal lobe. Similarly, acquired hearing loss had a decrease in frontal lobe GM, albeit the insula was most decreased. In congenital, WM underlying the frontal lobe GM was most decreased. In congenital, the right hemisphere was more negatively impacted than the left hemisphere; however, in acquired, this was the opposite. The WM alterations most frequently underlined GM alterations in congenital hearing loss, while acquired hearing loss studies did not frequently assess the WM metric. Future studies should use the endophenotype of hearing loss as a prognostic template for discerning clinical outcomes.

Research Area(s)

  • Bilateral hearing loss, DTI, Sensorineural hearing loss, Structural MRI, Unilateral hearing loss

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