LAWRENCE, Kan. (UPI) — Music lessons in childhood may keep people’s brains sharper as they age even if they don’t keep up with playing an instrument, U.S. researchers say.
"Musical activity throughout life may serve as a challenging cognitive exercise, making your brain fitter and more capable of accommodating the challenges of aging," said lead researcher Brenda Hanna-Pladdy of the University of Kansas. "Since studying an instrument requires years of practice and learning, it may create alternate connections in the brain that could compensate for cognitive declines as we get older."
While considerable research has been conducted on the cognitive benefits of musical activity in children, this is the first study to examine whether those benefits can extend across a lifetime, Hanna-Pladdy said.
In the study, 70 healthy adults age 60 to 83 were divided into groups based on their levels of musical experience.
The researchers found those with some musical instruction in their history performed better on several cognitive tests than individuals who had never studied an instrument or learned how to read music.
The research findings were published in the American Psychological Association’s journal Neuropsychology.
Copyright 2011 by United Press International