Playing a Musical Instrument Good for the Brain as We Age

1 min read

April 27, 2023 -- Playing music can help aging brain health, a new study by the Chinese Academy of Science has found.

The study shows that musical training can improve speech perception in adults by preserving and compensating for youthful neural patterns,” Neuroscience News reported.

“The research reveals two mechanisms that older musicians use to counteract age-related decline: functional preservation and functional compensation, providing hope for targeted interventions to promote healthy aging.”

The research was published in the journal Science Advances.

Cognitive decline causes problems for people experiencing the disease, their families, and caregivers. With the world’s population aging faster than ever, researchers are hoping to find ways to intervene.

The neuroimaging study involved older musicians, older non-musicians, and young non-musicians.

In identifying sounds and syllables under noisy conditions, older musicians did better than older non-musicians – and equaled young non-musicians. 

“Among age-related cognitive deficits, difficulty in understanding speech in noisy environments is one of the most prevalent, even in older adults who show normal hearing for their age,” the researchers wrote.

“Playing music makes older adults better listeners by preserving youthful neural patterns as well as recruiting additional compensatory brain regions,” said research team leader DU Yi of the Institute of Psychology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. “Our study provides empirical evidence to support that playing music keeps your brain sharp, young, and focused.”