Older Musicians Enjoy Brain Benefits

Older Musicians Enjoy Brain Benefits

Many caregivers find that listening to music is an integral part of senior care because it helps older adults emotionally, physically, spiritually and intellectually.

Now, a recent study has provided biological evidence that lifelong musical practice has an advantage when it comes to the aging brain.

Age-related delays in neural timing, or the automatic brain responses to speech sounds, are less severe in musicians than in non-musicians, researchers from Northwestern University found. In the study, researchers looked at the automatic brain responses of older and younger musicians to speech sounds, and found that older musicians had a distinct advantage.

“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 Nina Kraus. “This reinforces the idea that how we actively experience sound over the course of our lives has a profound effect on how our nervous system functions.”

Even non-musicians can benefit from melodies, though. Music is frequently used in Alzheimer’s care and other senior living settings to encourage positive behaviors or moods, AnnArbor.com reports.