Long-term community noise exposure in relation to dementia, cognition, and cognitive decline in older adults

Alzheimers Dement. 2021 Mar;17(3):525-533. doi: 10.1002/alz.12191. Epub 2020 Oct 20.


Introduction: Exposure to noise might influence risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD) dementia.

Methods: Participants of the Chicago Health and Aging Project (≥65 years) underwent triennial cognitive assessments. For the 5 years preceding each assessment, we estimated 5227 participants' residential level of noise from the community using a spatial prediction model, and estimated associations of noise level with prevalent mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and AD, cognitive performance, and rate of cognitive decline.

Results: Among these participants, an increment of 10 A-weighted decibels (dBA) in noise corresponded to 36% and 29% higher odds of prevalent MCI (odds ratio [OR] = 1.36; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.15 to 1.62) and AD (OR = 1.29, 95% CI, 1.08 to 1.55). Noise level was associated with worse global cognitive performance, principally in perceptual speed (-0.09 standard deviation per 10 dBA, 95% CI: -0.16 to -0.03), but not consistently associated with cognitive decline.

Discussion: These results join emerging evidence suggesting that noise may influence late-life cognition and risk of dementia.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; aging; cognition; cognitive decline; dementia; epidemiology; noise.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chicago / epidemiology
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / psychology*
  • Dementia / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Noise / adverse effects*
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Risk Factors