There has been much research done on the cognitive benefits of musical activity during childhood; a recent study conducted by the University of Kansas analyzes whether or not these benefits carry over into adulthood. While more research is needed, the findings thus far are quite fascinating.
The study divided its participants, aged 60 to 83, into the following three groups: those with no musical training; with one to nine years of musical study; and with at least ten years of musical training. All of the participants had similar levels of education and were considered fit and healthy. All of the musicians involved were amateurs who had begun playing around age 10. The following is an excerpt from the article published on the American Psychological Association’s website:
“The high-level musicians who had studied the longest performed the best on the cognitive tests, followed by the low-level musicians and non-musicians, revealing a trend relating to years of musical practice. The high-level musicians had statistically significant higher scores than the non-musicians on cognitive tests relating to visuospatial memory, naming objects, and cognitive flexibility, or the brain’s ability to adapt to new information.
“The brain functions measured by the tests typically decline as the body ages and more dramatically deteriorate in neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. The results ‘suggest a strong predictive effect of high musical activity throughout the lifespan on preserved cognitive functioning in advanced age,’ the study stated.
“Half of the high-level musicians still played an instrument at the time of the study, but they didn’t perform better on the cognitive tests than the other advanced musicians who had stopped playing years earlier. This suggests that the duration of musical study was more important than whether musicians continued playing at an advanced age, lead researcher Brenda Hanna-Pladdy, PhD says.”
Interestingly enough, MENC’s 2011 slogan for Music in Our Schools Month was “Music Lasts a Lifetime.” It would appear that they are onto something.
Click here to read the full article: http://bit.ly/eV6i5x