Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program



English (en)

Date of Award

Summer 8-1-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Chair and Committee

Mitchell Sommers


In a recent cross-sectional study, as has been found in numerous previous studies, Sommers et al.: 2011) found that age-related declines in hearing, as assessed by pure-tone thresholds, begin around age 20 and continue across the lifespan. In another article published from the same cross-sectional dataset, Hale et al.: 2011) found that working memory ability also begins declining around age 20 and continues throughout life. The present study is a longitudinal follow-up of these two studies in which a sub-sample of older adults: ≥65 years old at the time of original testing approximately four years ago) were re-tested on sensory and cognitive measures. The goal was to examine the extent to which older adults experience longitudinal declines on sensory and cognitive abilities over a relatively short period of time, and whether declines in one domain accompany declines in the other. In reference to sensory abilities, participants experienced declines for pure-tone thresholds and speech perception in noise. Additionally, they experienced declines for most cognitive abilities. They did not experience declines on the two simple verbal working memory tasks or on the two visuospatial processing speed tasks. Despite extensive longitudinal sensory and cognitive declines, there was only partial evidence for a common cause underlying these declines. Given the paucity of longitudinal studies investigating these abilities, the present results provide important information about the sensory-cognitive profile of aging.


This work is not available online per the author’s request. For access information, please contact or visit

Permanent URL:

Included in

Psychology Commons