Now hear this: A recent study suggests that playing a musical instrument throughout your life can help you hang on to your hearing, even in old age.
The study, led by Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute in Toronto, found that musicians all across the age spectrum faired significantly better than those who aren’t as tunefully inclined on hearing tests. The study involved adults aged 18 to 91 years of age and included 74 musicians and 89 non-musicians, Science Daily reported.
Basically, the researchers found that a 70-year old virtuoso had hearing equivalent to a non-musician twenty years his or her junior. Additionally, reports indicate the study found that musicians had fewer instances of something called “cocktail party syndrome,” as they were able to detect speech against background noise more successfully than non-musicians.
Results of the study have been published in the journal Psychology and Aging.
Benjamin Zendel of Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute told the BBC that even older musicians who practice regularly might be able to put the breaks on age-related hearing loss.
“We found that being a musician may contribute to better hearing in old age by delaying some of the age-related changes in central auditory processing,” he said. “This advantage widened considerably for musicians as they got older when compared to similar-aged non-musicians.”
Science Daily reported that Zendel and his colleagues also determined that musicians excelled on other auditory tasks, including mistuned harmonic detection and gap detection.
This isn’t the first time musicians and their superior hearing have been studied. According to an October 2009 report from NPR news, a study presented at that year’s annual meeting of the Society of Neuroscientists suggested that “serious musicians are better than other people at erceiving and remembering sounds” because their brains are better at detecting them.
Even if you’re not a musician, it’s smart to be concerned about hearing loss. For more information on what you can do to protect your ears, check out The Hearing Professionals’ website at www.icanhearthat.com.