Can music really slow down the ageing process?

A very interesting new study has revealed that music can help slow down the ageing process. Think this sounds too good to be true? then read on….

Researchers in the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University in the US, measured the automatic brain responses of younger and older musicians and nonmusicians to speech sounds. They discovered that older musicians had a distinct neural timing advantage and concluded that age-related delays in neural timing are not inevitable and can be avoided or delayed with musical training.

Neuroscientist Nina Kraus commented “The older musicians not only outperformed their older nonmusician counterparts, but they encoded the sound stimuli as quickly and accurately as the younger nonmusicians”. “This reinforces the idea that how we actively experience sound over the course of our lives has a profound effect on how our nervous system functions.”

The data suggests that intensive training even late in life could improve speech processing in older adults and improve their ability to communicate in complex, noisy acoustic environments. Don Caspary, a researcher on age-related hearing loss at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine says “They support the idea that the brain can be trained to overcome, in part, some age-related hearing loss”.

Previous studies from Kraus’ Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory suggest that musical training also offsets losses in memory and difficulties hearing speech in noise — two common complaints of older adults. The lab has been extensively studying the effects of musical experience on brain  plasticity across the life span in normal and clinical populations, and in  educational settings.

What great news. Music can have so many positive influences on our general well being and I am going to examine a few of the most common ways that it can heal us both physically and mentally in future blog posts. It really can have a huge impact on our lives. You don’t always have to play an instrument either, often listening or meditating to music can be very beneficial too.

My publications:

For much more information about how to practice piano repertoire, take a look at my piano course, Play it again: PIANO (published by Schott Music). Covering a huge array of styles and genres, the course features a large collection of progressive, graded piano repertoire from approximately Grade 1 to advanced diploma level, with copious practice tips for every piece. A convenient and beneficial course for students of any age, with or without a teacher, and it can also be used alongside piano examination syllabuses too.

You can find out more about my other piano publications and compositions here.