Navigation Links
Taking up music so you can hear
Date:8/17/2009

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Anyone with an MP3 device -- just about every man, woman and child on the planet today, it seems -- has a notion of the majesty of music, of the primal place it holds in the human imagination.

But musical training should not be seen simply as stuff of the soul -- a frill that has to go when school budgets dry up, according to a new Northwestern University study.

The study shows that musicians -- trained to hear sounds embedded in a rich network of melodies and harmonies -- are primed to understand speech in a noisy background, say in a restaurant, classroom or plane.

It is the first demonstration of musical training offsetting the deleterious effects of background noise, and the implications are provocative.

"The study points to a highly pragmatic side of music's magic," said Nina Kraus, Hugh Knowles Professor of Communication Sciences and Neurobiology and director of Northwestern's Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory, where the research was done.

The findings strongly support the potential therapeutic and rehabilitation use of musical training to address auditory processing and communication disorders throughout the life span.

Hearing speech in noise is difficult for everyone. But the difficulty is particularly acute for older adults, who are likely to have hearing and memory loss, and for poor readers who have normal hearing but whose nervous systems poorly transcribe sounds that ultimately are critical to good reading skills.

"Many older adults will say, 'I can hear what you're saying, but I don't understand you,'" Kraus said. "So they might have a little bit of a hearing loss, but often not enough to warrant the difficulty that a lot of older adults report."

Such populations could benefit from the reordering of the nervous system that occurs with musical training, according to the study. Because the brain changes with experience, musicians have better-tuned circuitry -- the pitch, timing and spectral elements of sound are represented more strongly and with greater precision in their nervous systems.

"Musical training makes musicians really good at picking out melodies, the bass line, the sound of their own instruments from complex sounds," Kraus said. Now, for the first time, this study has confirmed that such fine tuning of the nervous system also makes musicians highly adept at translating speech in noise.

The finding has particular implications for hearing certain consonants which are vulnerable to misinterpretation by the brain and are a big problem for some poor readers in a noisy environment. The brain's unconscious faulty interpretation of sounds makes a big difference in how words ultimately will be read.

Thirty-one study participants, with normal hearing and a mean age of 23, were divided into one group with music experience and another without it. They had to listen to sentences presented in increasingly noisy conditions and repeat back what they heard.

Better perception in noise was linked with better working memory and tone discrimination ability. The results imply that musical training enhances the ability to hear speech in challenging listening environments by strengthening auditory memory and the representation of important acoustic features.

In one of the tests, for example, participants had to repeat back "The square peg will settle in the round hole." Such longer sentences that are syntactically correct but lack familiar cues measure working memory as well as the ability to distinguish sounds in noise.

The Auditory Neuroscience Lab at Northwestern has helped establish the relationship between sound encoding in the brain and linguistic abilities by showing that the very neural sound transcription processes that are deficient in children with dyslexia are enhanced in people with musical experience. Based on this collective work, poor readers may show greater benefits from training programs that include music as well as speech sounds.

By reinforcing the pervasive effects that musical experience has on sound-processing abilities, Kraus stressed, this study underscores the importance of music education being more accessible to the general population.


'/>"/>

Contact: Pat Vaughan Tremmel
p-tremmel@northwestern.edu
847-491-4892
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Depression Taking Toll on Returning U.S. Vets
2. 13 percent of women stop taking breast cancer drug because of side effects, U-M study finds
3. Study finds drug spending caps cause some seniors to quit taking key medicines
4. The Nutrition-Conscious Are Taking a Bite Out of Fast Food
5. New Resource for Taking Care of Aging Parents Available in Beta
6. Study finds drug spending caps cause some seniors to quit taking key medicines
7. Blue Cross And Blue Shield Association Survey Shows Consumer Driven Health Plan Enrollees Are Taking More Control of Their Healthcare
8. Taking the stress out of choosing the right stress test
9. Better Prostate Cancer Survival for Men Taking Statins
10. Multi-talented Entertainer Chris Brown Goes Back to School, Taking on a Starring Role in the St. Jude Math-A-Thon (R) Video
11. Mayo Clinic study finds that after heart attack most patients stop taking life-saving drugs
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/18/2017)... ... February 17, 2017 , ... Focused ... innovation in the industry, according to the recent NEJM Catalyst Insights Report on ... of the NEJM Catalyst Insights Council, a qualified group of U.S. executives, clinical ...
(Date:2/18/2017)... ... 2017 , ... A new directory from the Senior Veterans ... connect elderly veterans of America's armed forces to a range of senior care ... on this year's increase in the Veterans Pension with Aid & Attendance for ...
(Date:2/17/2017)... ... 2017 , ... For the first time, International Scholarship and ... floor for the 2017 HIMSS Conference & Exhibition at the Orange ... than 40,000 healthcare industry professionals are expected at the conference, where they will ...
(Date:2/17/2017)... ... February 17, 2017 , ... Access today ... Exhibition in Orlando, Fla., February 19-23. Visitors to the company’s booth (#1778) will ... used electronic patient signatures solution in healthcare . , Since it first ...
(Date:2/17/2017)... ... February 17, 2017 , ... Cancer diagnostics workflow solution provider ... 20 – 22 in San Francisco. As part of the Tri-Conference expo, which ... workflow solution, as well as its new precision medicine platform, “Crosswalk Insight: Oncology™.” ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:2/16/2017)... 2017  AcelRx Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: ... the development and commercialization of innovative therapies for ... Vincent J. Angotti has been appointed ... company,s board of directors, effective Monday, March 6, ... experience leading executive and commercial teams at public ...
(Date:2/16/2017)... , Feb. 16, 2017  Prescription pain medications ... department visit are necessary for long-term opioid use to ... Feb. 16 th edition of The New ... "Emergency physicians see more patients in acute pain than ... Parker , MD, FACEP, president of the American College ...
(Date:2/16/2017)... Research and Markets has announced the addition of the ... Function, Application, Cancer Type, Technology - Forecast to 2025" report ... ... grow at a CAGR of around 28.6% over the next decade ... Some of the prominent trends that the market is witnessing include ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: