Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Just a few years of early musical training benefits the brain later in life

Date:
November 5, 2013
Source:
Society for Neuroscience (SfN)
Summary:
Older adults who took music lessons as children but haven’t actively played an instrument in decades have a faster brain response to a speech sound than individuals who never played an instrument. The finding suggests early musical training has a lasting, positive effect on how the brain processes sound.

Older adults who took music lessons as children but haven't actively played an instrument in decades have a faster brain response to a speech sound than individuals who never played an instrument, according to a study appearing November 6 in The Journal of Neuroscience. The finding suggests early musical training has a lasting, positive effect on how the brain processes sound.

As people grow older, they often experience changes in the brain that compromise hearing. For instance, the brains of older adults show a slower response to fast-changing sounds, which is important for interpreting speech. However, previous studies show such age-related declines are not inevitable: recent studies of musicians suggest lifelong musical training may offset these and other cognitive declines.

In the current study, Nina Kraus, PhD, and others at Northwestern University explored whether limited musical training early in life is associated with changes in the way the brain responds to sound decades later. They found that the more years study participants spent playing instruments as youth, the faster their brains responded to a speech sound.

"This study suggests the importance of music education for children today and for healthy aging decades from now," Kraus said. "The fact that musical training in childhood affected the timing of the response to speech in older adults in our study is especially telling because neural timing is the first to go in the aging adult," she added.

For the study, 44 healthy adults, ages 55-76, listened to a synthesized speech syllable ("da") while researchers measured electrical activity in the auditory brainstem. This region of the brain processes sound and is a hub for cognitive, sensory, and reward information. The researchers discovered that, despite none of the study participants having played an instrument in nearly 40 years, the participants who completed 4-14 years of music training early in life had the fastest response to the speech sound (on the order of a millisecond faster than those without music training).

"Being a millisecond faster may not seem like much, but the brain is very sensitive to timing and a millisecond compounded over millions of neurons can make a real difference in the lives of older adults," explained Michael Kilgard, PhD, who studies how the brain processes sound at the University of Texas at Dallas and was not involved in this study. "These findings confirm that the investments that we make in our brains early in life continue to pay dividends years later," he added.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Neuroscience (SfN). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. T. White-Schwoch, K. W. Carr, S. Anderson, D. L. Strait, N. Kraus. Older Adults Benefit from Music Training Early in Life: Biological Evidence for Long-Term Training-Driven Plasticity. Journal of Neuroscience, 2013; 33 (45): 17667 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2560-13.2013

Cite This Page:

Society for Neuroscience (SfN). "Just a few years of early musical training benefits the brain later in life." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131105171354.htm>.
Society for Neuroscience (SfN). (2013, November 5). Just a few years of early musical training benefits the brain later in life. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131105171354.htm
Society for Neuroscience (SfN). "Just a few years of early musical training benefits the brain later in life." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131105171354.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The brains of artists aren't really left-brain or right-brain, but rather have extra neural matter in visual and motor control areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. 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