Music Keeps the Hearing Brain Young

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According to recent studies, playing a musical instrument has shown cognitive improvements in the brains of adults in their senior years. The key to the successful understanding of speech in a noisy environment depends on factors that go beyond the ear, including cognitive abilities and the brain’s integrity in sound processing. Training to play a musical instrument and practicing regularly reinforces these mental pathways, improving how retirees are hearing.

Music specifically strengthens one’s ability to process sound, which can degrade from audiological aging. In recent studies, the brains of older adult musicians seem to pick up the details of speech sounds as quickly as young adults who have no musical background. Older adults with training in music also have larger and more active neural responses to speech.

Exploring even further, it appears that adult musicians show stronger connections in the functions between multiple auditory areas in the brain. This fact suggest that musical training strengthens the brains mechanics towards auditory processing, which can be helpful in noisy environments.

There is also an emotional satisfaction experienced by those who practice and perform music.  Playing instruments in a group can create an opportunity for social engagement among retirees and seniors. These individuals also benefit as the music engages key systems in the brain that affect attention and memory. Healthy hearing is connected to thinking, feeling, and even moving, thus the benefits of musical training could develop further improvements from hearing skills to broader health benefits.

Continued research will incorporate musical training as a strategy towards aural rehabilitation in older adults. While it continues, consult with one of our hearing healthcare professionals for additional practices and exercises. We hope our advice and support will be music to your ears.