If you have a hearing loss and play an instrument, you are better at detecting sounds against noisy backgrounds, processing sound and at remembering what you have heard than those who do not play an instrument.
Especially hearing in noisy backgrounds is a big challenge for many people with hearing loss.
A study carried out by professor Nina Kraus of neurobiology, physiology and otolaryngology at Northwestern University, Illinois in the US has found that among people with hearing loss, musicians were better at detecting, processing and remembering sounds.
Music trains the brain
”Part of what you are doing as a musician is listening for meaning, harmonies and the sound of your instrument. Musicians outperform non-musicians in remembering what they’ve heard, and this skill is needed to hear in noisy environments”, Nina Kraus said.
”The nerves in the brains of musicians responded more clearly and precisely than non-musicians. By learning to play an instrument a person can develop auditory skills that improve the ability to hear sound and speech”, she said.
It helps to start learning
Professor Nina Kraus’ study consisted of 18 musicians and 19 non-musicians, aged 45 to 65, all with hearing loss. She tested their hearing in noisy environments by monitoring electrical activity from nerves in the brain in response to sounds, using electrodes on the scalp.
Even though the study focused on those who had played an instrument since childhood, professor Kraus believes hearing would also improve if adults start learning to play an instrument.
The study was published in the Journal Hearing Research.