The expression “Music to my ears” may soon have a very different meaning for people suffering from hearing loss.
Researchers at the University of Helsinki and the University College London evaluated the effects of musical experiences on hearing loss in children and the results 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 main measure researchers looked at, putting 43 young children in a clinical study for 14 to 17 months. 22 of the children observed had normal hearing while the other 21 had cochlear implants. knowing that the children with implants had a hard time understanding speech perception before the start of the study, researchers created 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.
Music Trains The Ear
There is a tremendous amount of research demonstrating the advantages to cognitive ability and speech processing provided by musical training and this study is just one of them. In noisy environments, speech perception can be improved by musical training, and these results were corroborated by a study conducted by the Montreal Neurological Institute
That study evaluated the brain activity of 30 participants, 15 musicians and 15 non-musicians, challenging each to identify speech syllables through a number of background noise levels.
The ages of the participants in the study by Drs. Yi and Roberts, in contrast to the Helsinki/London study, averaged 22 years old. While participants weren’t always hearing impaired, the difference in results among people who were musically trained and those who weren’t was considerable.
Musicians Outperform Non-Musicians
When the noise was absent, both groups had comparable results, but when any level of background noise was added, 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 the advantages of musical training found from Drs. Yi and Robert’s study 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 worthwhile to note that while the musicians examined were adults, they all began their musical education at a much younger age and acquired at least ten years of musical training. Musical training has a profound effect and this again backs that fact.
Beethoven’s Fight With Hearing Loss
Some of the world’s most well-known musicians and composers have struggled with hearing loss. Probably the most well-known deaf composer, Ludwig van Beethoven was born with the ability to hear, but that started to decline while he was in his late 20s.
The early foundation of Beethoven’s training, though severe, was likely the conduit for extending his musical career. During the last 10 years of his life, Beethoven was, in fact, nearly totally deaf. In spite of that, many of his most beloved works came over his last 15 years.