Elderly Musicians Hear Better than Elderly Non-Musicians

Age related hearing loss is a very significant detriment to quality of life in the aged.  As we strive through lifestyle and technology to expand our lifespans it is important to avoid age related hearing loss.

Age related hearing loss is poorly understood.  Oxidative stress causing loss of hearing cells is one theory, but it is also believed that chronic exposure to loud noises in the environment is another.

Though you might imagine listening and playing music throughout life could be damaging to the ear, a new study has shown interesting results when comparing aged musicians to non musicians.

In the study 74 musicians, defined as those who have payed and continue to play an instrument since age 16 or less were compared to a similar sized and aged group of non musicians.  Participants ranged in age from 19 to 91.

They were tested across four of auditory tasks including pure tone thresholds and speech-in-noise detection.

While no differences were seen in pure tone perception, musicians consistently could perceive speech in noise at the levels of non-musicians 20 years younger.

The study suggests that decline in cortical auditory processing may be reduced in musicians whereas decline in cochlear function is similar to non musicians.

“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. This advantage widened considerably for musicians as they got older when compared to similar-aged non-musicians,” said lead researcher Benjamin Rich Zendel.

Keep on rockin’!

Source (Science Daily)

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