Your Hearing Can be Strengthened by Music

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The saying “Music to my ears” may soon have a very different meaning to people suffering from hearing impairment.

Exposing children to music can have a beneficial effect on hearing as is highlighted by a joint study carried out by the University College London and the University of Helsinki.

Evaluating Speech-in-Noise Performance

Speech-in-noise performance was the principal measure researchers observed, enrolling 43 young kids in a clinical study for 14 to 17 months. Of those enrolled, 21 children had cochlear implants, while the other 22 had normal hearing ability. The researchers already knew that children with implants had a difficult time understanding speech so they created control and test sets which assigned participants to singing and non-singing groups.

For kids in the singing group, a remarkable improvement in awareness and speech-in-noise performance was observed in comparison with children in the non-singing group.

The Ears Are Trained by Music

There is a great deal of research showing the benefits to cognitive ability and speech processing provided by musical training and this research is just one of them. A study from the Montréal Neurological Institute corroborated these results and indicated that musical training can enhance speech perception in noisy environments.

That study examined the brain activity of 30 participants, 15 musicians and 15 non-musicians, challenging each to identify speech syllables through numerous background noise levels.

Unlike the research out of Helsinki and London, Drs. Yi and Robert’s study evaluated young adults whose ages averaged around 22-years-old. While participants weren’t necessarily hearing impaired, the difference in results among individuals who were musically trained and those who weren’t was substantial.

Musicians Outperform Non-Musicians

When the noise was absent, both groups had similar results, but when any amount of background noise was added, the musicians significantly outperformed the non-musicians. Musicians have enhanced left interior frontal and right auditory areas of the brain which most likely accounts for this ability to perform well on these tests.

But the benefits of musical training revealed by Drs. Yi and Robert’s research don’t just end there. According to the study’s findings, musical training strengthened the participant’s auditory-motor network, fine-tuning and uniting the auditory system and speech motor system to improve hearing.

It’s worthwhile to note that while the musicians examined were adults, each of them started their musical training at a much younger age and acquired at least ten years of musical training. Musical training has a profound effect and this once again supports that fact.

Beethoven’s Fight With Hearing Loss

Hearing loss has been a challenge for some of the world’s most distinguished composers and musicians. Perhaps the most famous deaf composer, Ludwig van Beethoven was born with the ability to hear, but that began to deteriorate while he was in his late 20s.

The early foundation of Beethoven’s training, though extreme, was probably the conduit for extending his musical career. During the last decade of his life, Beethoven was, in fact, nearly entirely deaf. Despite that, many of his most beloved pieces were composed during his last 15 years.



References

Can children with hearing loss benefit from music and singing?


https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-12-musical-affects-speech.html

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