Music lessons in childhood help to preserve hearing later in life. This is the conclusion drawn by the researchers from Northwestern University in the U.S. According to an article published in the Journal of Neuroscience, these lessons improve the brain’s response to sounds, and elderly people can understand the speech of others better.
It is a common fact that hearing deteriorates with age. According to scientists, certain changes take place in the brain. In particular, the elderly people often have delayed reaction to the fast-changing sounds. However, the U.S. experts have found out that if the people were taking music lessons as children, their brain’s response is a millisecond faster than in the others.
According to the authors, the seemingly minor difference in a millisecond is very noticeable for the brain because of its incredible sensitivity. The brain needs to involve a million neurons for such an advantage in time.
The study involved 44 people aged 55 to 76 years. None of them had played a musical instrument for 40 years. The aim of the exercise was to test whether the effect of music lessons on the brain while listening to the sounds was preserved after so many years.
The participants were asked to listen to the synthesized speech syllable “yes”. At the same time, the scientists measured the activity in the brain region, responsible for hearing. In the end, a series of tests revealed that the fastest reaction was observed in those who studied music at the age of 4 to 14 years. A more rapid response of the brain consequently improves the perception of speech.