Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Music training has biological impact on aging process

Date:
January 30, 2012
Source:
Northwestern University
Summary:
Age-related delays in neural timing are not inevitable and can be avoided or offset with musical training, according to the first study to provide biological evidence that lifelong musical experience impacts the aging process. Measuring automatic brain responses of younger and older musicians and non-musicians to speech sounds, researchers found older musicians not only outperformed older non-musicians, they also encoded sound stimuli as quickly and accurately as younger non-musicians.

Age-related delays in neural timing are not inevitable and can be avoided or offset with musical training, according to a new study from Northwestern University. The study is the first to provide biological evidence that lifelong musical experience has an impact on the aging process.
Credit: Mateusz Papiernik / Fotolia

Age-related delays in neural timing are not inevitable and can be avoided or offset with musical training, according to a new study from Northwestern University. The study is the first to provide biological evidence that lifelong musical experience has an impact on the aging process.

Measuring the automatic brain responses of younger and older musicians and non-musicians to speech sounds, researchers in the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory discovered that older musicians had a distinct neural timing advantage.

"The older musicians not only outperformed their older non-musician counterparts, they encoded the sound stimuli as quickly and accurately as the younger non-musicians," said Northwestern neuroscientist Nina Kraus. "This reinforces the idea that how we actively experience sound over the course of our lives has a profound effect on how our nervous system functions."

Kraus, professor of communication sciences in the School of Communication and professor of neurobiology and physiology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, is co-author of "Musical experience offsets age-related delays in neural timing" published online in the journal Neurobiology of Aging.

"These are very interesting and important findings," said Don Caspary, a nationally known researcher on age-related hearing loss at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. "They support the idea that the brain can be trained to overcome, in part, some age-related hearing loss."

"The new Northwestern data, with recent animal data from Michael Merzenich and his colleagues at University of California, San Francisco, strongly suggest that intensive training even late in life could improve speech processing in older adults and, as a result, improve their ability to communicate in complex, noisy acoustic environments," Caspary added.

Previous studies from Kraus' Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory suggest that musical training also offset losses in memory and difficulties hearing speech in noise -- two common complaints of older adults. The lab has been extensively studying the effects of musical experience on brain plasticity across the life span in normal and clinical populations, and in educational settings.

However, Kraus warns that the current study's findings were not pervasive and do not demonstrate that musician's have a neural timing advantage in every neural response to sound. "Instead, this study showed that musical experience selectively affected the timing of sound elements that are important in distinguishing one consonant from another."

The automatic neural responses to speech sounds delivered to 87 normal-hearing, native English-speaking adults were measured as they watched a captioned video. "Musician" participants began musical training before age 9 and engaged consistently in musical activities through their lives, while "non-musicians" had three years or less of musical training.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Northwestern University. The original article was written by Wendy Leopold. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Alexandra Parbery-Clark, Samira Anderson, Emily Hittner, Nina Kraus. Musical experience offsets age-related delays in neural timing. Neurobiology of Aging, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2011.12.015

Cite This Page:

Northwestern University. "Music training has biological impact on aging process." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120130172402.htm>.
Northwestern University. (2012, January 30). Music training has biological impact on aging process. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120130172402.htm
Northwestern University. "Music training has biological impact on aging process." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120130172402.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) Researchers found an improvement in memory and learning function in subjects who received electric pulses to their brains. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins