The expression “Music to my ears” could soon have a very different meaning to people suffering from hearing impairment.
Exposing children to music can have a beneficial effect on hearing as is illustrated by a joint study conducted by the University College London and the University of Helsinki.
Evaluating Speech-in-Noise Performance
Researchers looked at 43 young kids in a 14 to 16 month study where they measured speech-in-noise performance. 22 of the children enrolled had normal hearing while the other 21 had cochlear implants. knowing that the children with implants had difficulty understanding speech perception before the beginning of the study, researchers developed control and test sets, assigning participants to a non-singing (control) and singing (test) group.
The results showed a remarkable improvement in awareness and speech-in-noise performance for youngsters in the singing group compared to their counterparts in the non-singing group.
The Ears Are Trained by Music
There is a great deal of research revealing the benefits to cognitive ability and speech processing offered by musical training and this research is just one of them. In noisy settings, speech perception can be enhanced by musical training, and these results were backed by a study conducted by the Montreal Neurological Institute
Identifying speech syllables through a variety of background noises was the objective of this study which used 15 musicians and 15 non-musicians.
The ages of the participants in the research by Drs. Yi and Roberts, unlike the Helsinki/London study, averaged 22 years old. These participants had normal hearing but there was a substantial difference in results between the musicians and the non-musicians.
Musicians Outperform Non-Musicians
When the noise was missing, both groups had similar results, but when any level of background noise was incorporated, the musicians substantially outperformed the non-musicians. Musicians have enhanced left interior frontal and right auditory areas of the brain which probably accounts for this ability to perform well on these tests.
But there’s more to the benefits of the musical training revealed by Dr. Yi and Robert’s study. According to the study’s findings, musical training strengthened the participant’s auditory-motor network, refining and uniting the auditory system and speech motor system to improve hearing.
These adult musicians in this study had all been educated when they were younger and had at least ten years of training. Musical training has a profound impact and this once again backs that fact.
Beethoven’s Bout With Hearing Loss
Some of the world’s most distinguished musicians and composers have suffered from hearing loss. Most notably, Ludwig van Beethoven who started to lose his hearing in his 20’s.
The early groundwork of Beethoven’s training, though extreme, was probably the gateway for extending his musical career. Through the last decade of his life, Beethoven was, in fact, nearly totally deaf. Despite that, many of his most treasured works were composed over his last 15 years.