Function Better in Your Old Age by Playing Music

Admit it: you’ve always wanted to play guitar, or perhaps, you’ve been meaning to pick it up again. Either way, you should!

New research has found that people with musical training on any instrument were able to certain task better in their old age when compared to non-musicians. So pick up your neglected jaw harp and get going on bringing those tunes in your head to life!

“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 Northwestern 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.”

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” published online in the journal “Neurobiology of Aging.”

“These are very interesting and important findings,” said Don Caspary, a nationally known researcher on age-related hearing loss at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. “They support the idea that the brain can be trained to overcome, in part, some age-related hearing loss.”

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