Objectives: Dietary carotenoids lutein (L) and zeaxanthin (Z) have been linked to improved visual and cognitive function. These effects are thought to be mediated by the presence of these pigments in critical regions of the retina and brain. There, it has been postulated that L and Z mediate improved performance by enhancing neural efficiency. The auditory system also relies on efficient segregating of signals and noise and LZ are also found in the auditory cortex. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the influence of LZ status (as assessed by the measuring levels in retina) on auditory thresholds in young non-smokers (N = 32, M = 20.72 ± 3.28 years).
Design: LZ status was determined by measuring macular pigment (MP) optical density using a standardized psychophysical technique (customized heterochromatic flicker photometry). Auditory thresholds were assessed with puretone thresholds and puretone auditory thresholds in white noise.
Results: MP density was related to many, but not all, of the puretone thresholds we tested: 250 Hz (F(6,32) = 4.36, P < 0.01), 500 Hz (F(6,32) = 2.25, P < 0.05), 1000 Hz (F(6,32) = 3.22, P < 0.05), and 6000 Hz (F(6,32) = 2.56, P < 0.05).
Conclusion: The overall pattern of results is consistent with a role for L and Z in maintaining optimal auditory function.
Keywords: Auditory thresholds; Lutein; Zeaxanthin.