Musicians don’t age

Music>> Hearing • Canada

Published: Friday 30 September 2011

imageLudwig van Beethoven and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had hearing impairment. So did the rock guitarist Pete Townsend.

But musicians enjoy better hearing, a Canadian study suggests. The study, published in Psychology and Aging, carried out hearing tests on 74 adult musicians, and 89 non-musicians. It found a 70-year-old musician’s speech and hearing were as good as those of a 50-year-old who did not play any instrument.

The researchers suggest that lifelong musicianship mitigates age-related changes in the brain, probably because musicians use their auditory systems at a high level on a regular basis.

Benjamin Zendel, a doctoral student at University of Toronto and member of the research team, said: “Being a musician may contribute to better hearing in old age by delaying some of the age-related changes in the central auditory processing.” This advantage widens considerably for musicians as they got older when compared to similar-aged non-musicians, he explained.

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