ON AIR: The New Classical FM

Music and Aging

Zoomer Report2022-9-22By: Libby Znaimer

There’s an old saying – that music is the medicine of the mind. Now there’s research to back that up – specifically that musical training bolsters the aging brain. A study by Northwestern University researchers who compared adults aged 45 to 65 with and without musical experience.

They found that lifelong musical training appears to help with at least two important functions known to decline with age — memory and the ability to hear speech in noise. Researchers found that one those tests, the 18 musicians in the study performed much better than the 19 non-musicians.

They say difficulty hearing speech in noise is one of the most common complaints of older adults, but age-related hearing loss only partly to blame, and adults with virtually the same hearing profile can differ dramatically in their ability to pick out speech in a noisy setting.

The researchers figure that music training fine-tunes the nervous system.

They argue it makes sense that all the faculties used in learning and remembering music will be sharpened. And the result, they say, is that music experience bolsters the elements that combat age-related communication problems.



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