A new study shows that wearing a hearing aid for age-related hearing loss helps cognitive function over time.

The research by the University of Exeter and King’s College London, looked at 25,000 people aged 50 and older and builds on previous information that suggests hearing loss is an important risk factor for dementia. And early evidence suggests wearing a hearing aid can protect aging brains and reduce the risk of dementia.

Participants who wore hearing aids performed better when given with memory or attention tasks.

In the report, Dr. Anne Corbett from the University of Exeter wrote, “Previous research has shown that hearing loss is linked to a loss of brain function, memory and an increased risk of dementia. Our work is one of the largest studies to look at the impact of wearing a hearing aid, and suggests that wearing a hearing aid could actually protect the brain. We now need more research and a clinical trial to test this and perhaps feed into policy to help keep people healthy in later life.”

Researchers conducted the study remotely for over two years, while participants completed annual assessments online. The participants who wore the hearing aids performed better when given memory or attention tasks.

They even showed faster reaction times and the ability to concentrate, doing things like straining to hear a sound, peering closely at an object of great interest, or listening intently to someone speaking.

Professor Clive Ballard of the University of Exeter Medical School, said that this is an early finding and more evidence is needed. But he does advise finding the right hearing aid if you do need one.

“At the very least, it will improve your hearing, and it could help keep your brain sharp too,” he said.