Researchers studied 44 healthy adults between the ages of 55 to 76. None of them had played an instrument in almost 40 years. They were asked to listen to a synthesized speech syllable (“da”) while the researchers measured the electrical activity in their auditory brainstems.
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Music lessons make for sharper adults?
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With only 70 participants, the study was small, but the results match those from other studies of challenging tasks, including findings that learning a second language protects against dementia . “Musical activity throughout life may serve as a challenging cognitive exercise, making your brain fitter and more capable of accommodating the challenges of aging ,” study researcher Brenda Hanna-Pladdy, a neurologist at the Emory University School of Medicine, said in a statement. “Since studying an instrument requires years of practice and learning, it may create alternate connections in the brain that could compensate for cognitive declines as we get older.” The study participants ranged in age from 60 to 83. One group had no musical training, one had one to nine years of musical study, and the third group had 10 or more years. None of the participants had Alzheimer’s disease, and all had similar levels of education and fitness. None of the musicians in the group were professionals.
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