Monday, May 2, 2011

Aging musicians have sharp brains



Did you study music as a kid or are you studying it now? I've never met anyone who was sorry they studied music but I've met quite a few people who tell me that they wished they had studied music or studied it longer! (the photo is of me in my 20's - I am still playing at the age of 66!)

Besides all the other benefits of musical study, here's a new one. Two scientists who tested a group of people with several levels of musical study, found that those who had studied music the longest, also did the best on cognitive tests - the type of tests that elderly usually don't do so well on. A news article on futura.org detailed the study.

Hanna-Pladdy and Alicia McKay, then both at the University of Kansas Medical Center, enrolled 70 individuals, aged 63-80 years old, in their study. Brenda Hanna-Pladdy, clinical neuropsychologist now at Emory University and lead researcher on the study commented 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.
Those with over 10 years of study, functioned the best, those with 1-10 years of study functioned the second best and the ones who functioned the least well were those with no musical training. All of the cohort were about the same fitness level and none had evidenced signs of Alzheimer's disease.

The study was published in the April 2011 issue of Neuropsychology Journal.

Dr Hanna-Pladdy did point out that more research is needed because they could not make a direct connection between musical training and better cognitive skills but the study results are interesting and makes sense to me - especially that I am an aging musician!

3 comments:

bigcooke said...

Well, I guess that is why my turtles jumped back in the water when they heard me practice my piano for three years --- I gave up and went back on my computer and just started sending out emails -- it was much safer on the ears LOL

SueW said...

*LOL* Barry! I do like your emails though!

SueW said...

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