Music improves neuronal performance


Playing music for many years improves memory and hearing

Playing a musical instrument for many years increases memory and speech recognition in a noisy environment. This is the conclusion reached by the US researcher Nina Kraus from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois and colleagues in a small study with non-musicians and musicians whose hearing and memory skills have been put to the test.

With age, hearing also usually declines, with those affected having problems following conversations, especially in a noisy environment. They cannot separate the speech from the other noises, which, according to the US researchers, is not solely due to the hearing loss, since test subjects with comparable hearing ability performed extremely differently in their study of speech recognition under noise exposure. In all studies, the musicians were better than the subjects who did not play an instrument, the US researchers headed by study director Nina Kraus report in the scientific journal "PLoS One".

Music Improves Memory and Speech Recognition According to Northwestern University scientists, "lifelong musical training (...) seems to provide benefits for at least two important skills that are known to decrease with age". "The memory and the ability to hear speech in noise" was significantly better among musicians who had been playing an instrument since the age of nine than among non-musicians, according to study director Nina Kraus. As part of their study, the scientists subjected eighteen musicians and nineteen non-musicians between the ages of 45 and 65 to a series of tests that tested the test subjects' memory and hearing skills and their ability to understand speech at high noise levels. determined. Study leader Kraus explained that there were clear "neuronal improvements" in the "musically trained" compared to the non-musicians.

Neural improvements through musical training According to the US researchers, the “neuronal improvements” among musicians are “not just an amplification or a kind of volume control effect”, but the memory performance associated with hearing is also increased. “Making music calls for the ability to recognize relevant patterns separately, such as the sound of your own instrument, harmonies and rhythms, "explained study leader Kraus. The associated fine tuning of the nervous system apparently also has a positive impact on speech recognition, the US scientists explained Areas of the brain involved in the processing of optical stimuli are not affected by making music, according to the researchers, but the results of the musicians and non-musicians were similar in the tests related to visual working memory, Kraus and colleagues report.

Music for medical treatment for brain damage? The results of their study suggest that long-standing music making and the associated training can significantly reduce the age-related limitations of certain hearing skills, according to the research team led by Nina Kraus from Northwestern University. The positive effects of music on neuronal performance have also been investigated in previous studies, with Gottfried Schlaug, director of the "Music and Neuroimaging Laboratory" at Harvard Medical School, presenting an investigation in early 2010 that examined the effect of singing in the treatment of Stroke patients closely examined. The US scientists reported that the speech disorders that occur relatively frequently after a stroke can be successfully treated by singing therapy. When presenting his study, Schlaug also referred to patients who could hardly speak a text but were able to sing it without problems. The reason for the success of the therapy, according to the US researcher, is that the music addresses both hemispheres of the brain, while the act of speaking is limited to the left half of the brain. This is the area of ​​the language center that was not adequately supplied with blood in the affected stroke patients and was therefore damaged. By playing music, larger areas of the brain are now addressed and new connections have also been established in the damaged language center, the US researcher reported. (fp)

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Stroke: Singing activates language center

Image: Olga Meier-Sander / pixelio.de

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