Music Can Benefit Your Hearing

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

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 key measure researchers looked at, putting 43 young kids in a clinical study for 14 to 17 months. 22 of the children observed had normal hearing while the remaining 21 had cochlear implants. Armed with the knowledge that the children with implants had trouble understanding speech perception before the start of the study, researchers created control and test sets, assigning participants to a non-singing (control) and singing (test) group.

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

The Ears Are Trained by Music

This study is only the most recent in a long line of research initiatives that illustrate the merits of musical training to enhance cognitive ability and speech processing. In noisy settings, speech perception can be improved by musical training, and these findings were backed by research carried out by the Montreal Neurological Institute

Identifying speech syllables through a number of background noises was the objective of this study which examined 15 musicians and 15 non-musicians.

In contrast to the research out of Helsinki and London, Drs. Yi and Robert’s study observed young adults whose ages averaged about 22-years-old. These participants had normal hearing but there was a substantial difference in results between the musicians and the non-musicians.

Non-Musicians Were Outperformed By Musicians

The two groups performed equally under conditions without any noise, but the musicians would distinguish themselves as the study went on, outperforming non-musicians at all other signal-to-noise ratios. It’s likely that the ability to perform well on these tests was due to enhancements to the left interior frontal and right auditory parts located within the brains of the musicians.

But there’s more to the benefits of the musical training identified by Dr. Yi and Robert’s study. The auditory motor network is fine-tuned and united to the auditory system and speech motor system by this musical training according to this study.

It’s important to note that while the musicians studied were adults, each of them began their musical education at a much younger age and acquired at least ten years of musical training. This once again supports the recent assessment that musical training can have a profound impact.

The Affect of Hearing Loss on Beethoven

Some of the world’s most celebrated musicians and composers have suffered from hearing loss. Most notably, Ludwig van Beethoven who started to lose his hearing in his 20’s.

Though Beethoven’s early childhood musical education would be considered severe by present standards, the groundwork of the training might have been the gateway to prolonging his career as a composer. Through the last 10 years of his life, Beethoven was, in fact, almost completely deaf. Incredibly, it was during the last 15 years of his life that Beethoven wrote some of his most popular pieces.



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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