Background The presence of white matter hyperintensities (WMHs) can impact on normal brain function by altering normal signal transmission and determining different symptoms. Aim To evaluate the relationship between the presence of brain WMHs and the scores of speech perception test (SPT) in a sample of normal-hearing patients under 70 years of age. Material and method Prospective study. One hundred eleven patients underwent audiological screening with pure tone audiometry (PTA), tympanometry, speech perception testing (SPT), and brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). T2 sequences were analyzed to identify the presence of WMH that, if identified, were scored using the Fazekas score. Statistical multiple regression analysis was performed to understand the relationship between PTA and SPT score; the Pearson's and Spearman's tests were used to evaluate the correlation between Fazekas scores and SPT. Chi-square test was used to analyze the difference between gender. Results The results of PTA were not predictive of the SPT score. A negative statistically significant correlation (Spearman's, p = 0.0001; Pearson's, p < 0.001) was identified between the Fazekas score and the results of SPT. No statistically significant differences were identified in the correlation of WMH and SPT between males and females. Conclusion Multiple WMHs in the brain can worsen word recognition in patients with normal auditory threshold; this may be related to the impact that these lesions have on the memory ability. Spread of lesions into the brain might reduce the brain capacity to remember words, despite the sound is correctly perceived by the ear.
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