60-Second Mind

Young Musicians Reap Long-Term Neuro Benefits

People who played instruments as children responded a bit quicker to complex speech sounds as adults, even if they had not played an instrument in many years. Erika Beras reports

Those piano lessons you endured as a child, and those hours your parents made you practice, may benefit you in your later years. Even if you haven’t played in decades. So finds a study in the Journal of Neuroscience. [Travis White-Schwoch et al., Older Adults Benefit from Music Training Early in Life: Biological Evidence for Long-Term Training-Driven Plasticity

As we age, our response to fast-changing sounds slows down—which affects how we understand speech—and the world around us. But people who played instruments when they were young respond a bit quicker to such complex sounds. And the more years study subjects played instruments, the faster their brains responded to speech sound.
The researchers say that early acoustic experience may train the central auditory system—and that the changes are retained throughout life.
Previous studies of musicians have revealed that years of musical training may offset cognitive decline. This latest analysis shows that even if all you did was reluctantly pound a piano or blow a horn 40 years ago, you may still be reaping neurological benefits.

—Erika Beras

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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