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Does playing a musical instrument help your hearing?

Britons could soon be clamouring for sheet music after a recent study showed that lifelong musicians suffer fewer hearing problems in old age than those who do not play.
Research carried out at the Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute in Toronto, Canada, has shown that those who regularly play an instrument are less likely to suffer from what is known as the “cocktail party problem”.
This is the term regularly used to describe the issue many people suffer in old age where they have difficulty picking up speech when there is background noise present.
According to the researchers, the benefits of playing a musical instrument are more effective when players commence learning from the age of 16 years.
Benjamin Rich Zendel, the lead investigator working in the project, said: “What we found was that being a musician may contribute to better hearing in old age by delaying some of the age-related changes in central auditory processing.
“This advantage widened considerably for musicians as they got older when compared to similar-aged non-musicians.”
According to the study, a musician aged 70 years is able to understand speech in a noisy environment as well as non musicians 20 years younger.
This is due to the fact that musicians use the brain’s hearing systems at a high level and if this is the case for a prolonged period of time it can delay age-related hearing issues significantly.
To determine the results, the study looked at 74 musicians aged between 19 and 91 years and 89 non musicians aged between 18 and 86 years and compared the results of several assessments.
Earlier this month the research was published in the journal Psychology and Aging.
The news follows recent claims from scientists that learning to play a musical instrument could have a positive effect on the ability of a dyslexic child’s development.
According to a neuroscientist at Northwestern University, studies have shown that music has “profound effects” on the brain’s sensory system.

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