Musical Training helps with Hearing Ability in Noise

Musicians are AMAZING Listeners, Find Out Why!

Knowing how to play the 12-bar blues can help with WHAT?! Do you know how to play an instrument? If so, research suggests that you may have an advantage in noise perception both on a behavioural level and on a neural level.

Research shows that long-term musical training helps with speech perception in noisy environments. Specifically, musical training can lead to better auditory encoding, speech motor prediction, and auditory-motor integration that in turn leads to better speech perception.  When someone does musical training, their brain develops more enhanced synchronous firing of neurons, more efficient processing of speech, and more neural representations along the ascending auditory pathway (Gazzaniga et al., 2002).  In other words, the brain becomes more finely tuned to listening!

Why does musical training help speech perception? Well, speech and music share the same brain circuitry, so training one, trains the other.  Furthermore, music exerts additional demands on your neural circuitry; learning an instrument is hard work and takes effort, and this effort strengthens the listening section of your brain.  In addition, musical training forces a participant to pay close attention to small details in sound, further strengthening the listening part of your brain. Musicians have better speech perception in noise than non-musicians because they hone their pitch matching abilities.  These same skills are used to hear the human voice embedded in a background of other voices.

Maybe it’s time to learn an instrument: It can help your hearing and your brain!  Any instrument can work, even your voice!

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