Music Delays Aging

It seems that music is not only entertaining but can have a lasting effect on youthfulness. The Kraus’ Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory, located in the Northwestern School of Communication, conducted a study on musicians and non-musicians, and found that musicians are more likely to retain various skills, such as hearing and memory, determining that music does fight off a variety of signs of aging. Musicians and non-musicians of a wide spectrum of ages were chosen for the study, and the results were nothing less than fascinating.

To conduct the research eighteen musicians were selected and nineteen non musicians, with their ages ranging between forty-five and sixty-five. The volunteers for the study underwent a variety of tests to determine the differences in skills such as auditory temporal processing, auditory working memory and visual working memory. When results were compared, it was found that the musicians, most of who began playing an instrument at the approximate age of nine, outshone the non-musicians in both the auditory working memory and the auditory temporal processing. It is believed that learning how to play an instrument acts as a neural enhancement, as musicians not only have to become familiar with playing specific music patterns, but they also have to be able to seclude their sequences from other instruments and harmonies. Playing a musical instrument forces the brain to retain information. Musicians playing continuously throughout their lives keep their memories active and also ensure that their hearing does not deteriorate as rapidly as non-musicians.

Continual musical training therefore enables the brain to adapt to the aging process, delaying the onset of speech disabilities and memory deterioration. Memory loss and hearing loss are the two greatest disabilities of aging and music plays a vital role in delaying these two functions. Dr Nina Kraus, who has been a part of the project, commented: “Difficulty hearing speech in noise is among the most common complaints of older adults, but age-related hearing loss only partially accounts for this impediment that can lead to social isolation and depression.” It seems that musicians can therefore delay the onset of hearing and memory loss through the training they have received and continuous playing of their instruments.