For people who have hearing loss, the phrase “music to my ears” could take on a completely new meaning.
Researchers at the University of Helsinki and the University College London assessed the effects of musical experiences on hearing loss in children and the outcome of the study illustrated the effect and benefit obtained by exposing people to music.
Gauging Speech-in-Noise Performance
Speech-in-noise performance was the key measure researchers observed, enrolling 43 young children in a clinical study for 14 to 17 months. 22 of the children enrolled had normal hearing while the remaining 21 had cochlear implants. knowing that the children with implants had a hard time understanding speech perception before the beginning of the study, researchers created control and test sets, assigning participants to a non-singing (control) and singing (test) group.
For kids in the singing group, a significant improvement in awareness and speech-in-noise performance was revealed compared to children in the non-singing group.
Music Trains The Ear
This study is just the latest in a long line of research endeavors that show the merits of musical training to improve cognitive ability and speech processing. In loud environments, speech perception can be improved by musical training, and these findings were backed by a study carried out 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.
In contrast to the study out of Helsinki and London, Drs. Yi and Robert’s study observed young adults whose ages averaged around 22-years-old. These participants had normal hearing but there was a considerable difference in results between the non-musicians and musicians.
Non-Musicians Were Outperformed By Musicians
The two groups performed similarly under conditions without any noise, but the musicians would separate themselves as the study went on, outperforming non-musicians at all other signal-to-noise ratios. Musicians have enhanced left interior frontal and right auditory areas of the brain which most likely accounts for this ability to perform well on these tests.
But the advantages of musical training found from Drs. Yi and Robert’s research don’t simply end there. The auditory motor network is refined and united to the auditory system and speech motor system by this musical training according to this research.
It’s important to note that while the musicians examined were adults, they all began their musical training at a much younger age and acquired at least ten years of musical training. Musical training has a powerful impact and this again backs that fact.
Beethoven’s Battle With Hearing Loss
Some of the world’s most distinguished musicians and composers have suffered from hearing loss. Probably the most well-known deaf composer, Ludwig van Beethoven was able to hear when he was born, but that started to deteriorate while he was in his late 20s.
Although Beethoven’s early childhood musical education would be considered severe by present standards, the groundwork of the training might have been the conduit to extending his career as a composer. In fact, Beethoven actually lived the last decade of his life nearly totally deaf. In spite of that, many of his most treasured works came over his last 15 years.