Musical training boosts brain power

Toronto : Musical training in the younger years can prevent the decay in speech listening skills in later life, a new study has found, reports PTI.

Older adults who had musical training in their youth were 20 per cent faster in identifying speech sounds than their non-musician peers on speech identification tests, a benefit that has already been observed in young people with musical training, researchers said.

Among the different cognitive functions that can diminish with age is the ability to comprehend speech. Interestingly, this difficulty can persist in the absence of any measurable hearing loss. Starting formal lessons on a musical instrument prior to age 14 and continuing intense training for up to a decade appears to enhance key areas in the brain that support speech recognition, researchers said.

The study led by the Rotman Research Institute (RRI) at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto found “robust” evidence that this brain benefit is maintained even in the older population.

“Musical activities are an engaging form of cognitive brain training and we are now seeing robust evidence of brain plasticity from musical training not just in younger brains, but in older brains too,” said Gavin Bidelman, who led the study.

“In our study we were able to predict how well older people classify or identify speech using EEG imaging. We saw a brain-behaviour response that was two to three times better in the older musicians compared to non-musicians peers.

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