TORONTO, Sept. 13 (UPI) — A study suggests lifelong musicians experience less age-related hearing problems than non-musicians, Canadian researchers say.
The study by the Baycrest Center for Geriatric Care sought to see if lifelong musicians were less prone to the hearing problems prevalent in the elderly, who often report having difficulty understanding speech through background noise, what scientists have dubbed the “cocktail party problem.”
Part of the problem is an age-related decrease in central auditory processing, the ability to detect and discriminate acoustic information from environmental noise.
“What we found was that being a musician may contribute to better hearing in old age by delaying some of the age-related changes in central auditory processing,” Benjamin Rich Zendel at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute in Toronto said in a Baycrest release Tuesday.
“This advantage widened considerably for musicians as they got older when compared to similar-aged non-musicians,” he said.
The study findings suggest lifelong musicianship mitigates age-related changes in the brains of musicians, researchers said, probably due to their using their auditory systems at a high level on a regular basis.
In other words, the research suggests, “use it or lose it.”