Musical training, even late in life, may slow hearing, memory loss and other age-related delays in neural timing, according to findings recently published in Neurobiology of Aging.
In the study, researchers in the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory discovered that older musicians had a distinct neural timing advantage. This was determined by measuring the automatic brain responses of younger and older musicians and non-musicians to speech sounds.
"The older musicians not only outperformed their older non-musician counterparts, they encoded the sound stimuli as quickly and accurately as the younger non-musicians," said Northwestern neuroscientist and co-author Nina Kraus, Ph.D.
The researchers caution that the study results (subscription required) don't demonstrate that musicians' have a neural timing advantage in every neural response to sound. Still, the findings are pretty interesting and add to a body of findings showing musical training may benefit the brains of both adults and children.