University of Kansas researchers found that people aged between 60 and 80 years who have more than 10 years of experience with a musical instrument perform better on standard cognitive tests compared to their peers with no experience of learning music.
The findings that appeared in the journal Neuropsychology showed that people with the most experience in music, with 10 or more years of training, scored higher on cognitive tests related to visuospatial memory, even if they are no longer playing the instrument.
“The biggest predictor was really the number of years an individual played” the instrument, said the lead author Brenda Hanna-Pladdy, adding that, “Musical activity throughout life may serve as a challenging cognitive exercise, making your brain fitter and more capable of accommodating the challenges of aging.”
“Since studying an instrument requires years of practice and learning, it may create alternate connections in the brain that could compensate for cognitive declines as we get older,” she noted.
“The reason the study is important is that it is an example of a modifiable life style factor that may enhance cognitive vitality in advanced age,” Hanna-Pladdy said. “There is interest in identifying things that may prevent age-related declines and also possibly delay the presentation of a disorder such as Alzheimer’s disease.”
- Aging musicians have sharp brains (holykaw.alltop.com)
- Musical activity may improve cognitive aging (scienceblog.com)
- Learning to play music as a child boosts brain as a pensioner (telegraph.co.uk)