Music training improves the aging process, researchers say

HARRY JACKSON, JR.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Modified: June 8, 2012 at 4:52 pm •  Published: June 8, 2012
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photo - Researchers have discovered that age-related delays in neural timing are not inevitable and can be avoided or offset with musical training.
Researchers have discovered that age-related delays in neural timing are not inevitable and can be avoided or offset with musical training.

EVANSTON, Ill. — Music training has a lifelong good impact on the aging process, says a new study out of Northwestern University.

Researchers in the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern measured the automatic brain responses of younger and older musicians and non-musicians to speech sounds.

Researchers discovered that older musicians had a distinct neural timing advantage. Researchers concluded that age-related delays in neural timing are not inevitable and can be avoided or offset with musical training.

"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 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," she said.

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."