Music hath charms to protect the aging brain: the findings of a study by researchers at Northwestern University in the adults than in the age of 45-65 and have no musical experience.
“Lifelong musical training seems to provide benefits in at least two important functions known to decline with age – memory and the ability to hear speech in noise,” said study co-author Nina Kraus, director of the Neuroscience Laboratory at the trial Northwestern University School of Communication, said.
He and his colleagues found that 18 musicians in the study performed much better on tests of auditory memory and the ability to hear speech in noisy settings compared to 19 non-musicians.
The research findings are published in the journal PLoS One.
Musicians have fine-tuned hearing
“Difficulty hearing speech in noise is one of the most common complaints of older adults, but age-related hearing loss only partially accounts for obstacles that can lead to social isolation and depression,” says Kraus. “That is known that adults with virtually the same hearing profile can differ dramatically in their ability to hear speech in noise.”
Training music “tune” the nervous system, he explained.
“Sound is the stock in trade musician in much the same way that a sharp portrait painter in tune with the visual attributes of the paint that will convey his or her subject,” Kraus added.
“If the material you’re working with sound, then it is reasonable to assume that all of your faculties involved with taking in, holding it in memory and relating physically to it should be sharpened,” he added. “Music experience bolsters the elements that combat age-related communication problems.”