Older adults benefit from music training early in life: Biological evidence for long-term training-driven plasticity

Travis White-Schwoch, Kali Woodruff Carr, Samira Anderson, Dana L. Strait, Nina Kraus*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

81 Scopus citations

Abstract

Aging results in pervasive declines in nervous system function. In the auditory system, these declines include neural timing delays in response to fast-changing speech elements; this causes older adults to experience difficulty understanding speech, especially in challenging listening environments. These age-related declines are not inevitable, however: older adults with a lifetime of music training do not exhibit neural timing delays. Yet many people play an instrument for a few years without making a lifelong commitment. Here, we examined neural timing in a group ofhumanolder adultswhohad nominal amounts of music training early in life, butwhohad not played an instrument for decades. We found that a moderate amount (4-14 years) of music training early in life is associated with faster neural timing in response to speech later in life, long after training stopped (≥40 years). We suggest that early music training sets the stage for subsequent interactions with sound. These experiencesmayinteract over time to sustain sharpened neural processing in central auditory nuclei well into older age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17667-17674
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Volume33
Issue number45
DOIs
StatePublished - 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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