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For people who have hearing loss, the phrase “music to my ears” could have a completely new meaning.

Exposing children to music can have a worthwhile impact on hearing as is illustrated by a joint study conducted by the University College London and the University of Helsinki.

Gauging Speech-in-Noise Performance

Speech-in-noise performance was the principal measure researchers observed, enrolling 43 young kids in a clinical study for 14 to 17 months. Of those enrolled, 21 children had cochlear implants, while the remaining 22 had normal hearing ability. knowing that the children with implants had trouble 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.

For kids in the singing group, an impressive improvement in awareness and speech-in-noise performance was observed compared to children in the non-singing group.

Music Trains The Ear

There is a tremendous amount of research revealing the benefits to cognitive ability and speech processing provided by musical training and this study is only one of them. In noisy settings, speech perception can be improved by musical training, and these results were backed by research carried out by the Montreal Neurological Institute

That study examined the brain activity of 30 participants, 15 musicians and 15 non-musicians, challenging each to identify speech syllables through a variety of background noise levels.

In contrast to the research out of Helsinki and London, Drs. Yi and Robert’s study evaluated young adults whose ages averaged about 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 substantial.

Non-Musicians Were Outperformed By Musicians

When the noise was absent, both groups had comparable results, but when any amount of background noise was incorporated, the musicians substantially outperformed the non-musicians. It’s likely that the ability to perform well on these tests was a result of enhancements to the left interior frontal and right auditory regions found within the brains of the musicians.

But the benefits 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 worthwhile to note that while the musicians examined were adults, each of them started their musical training at a much younger age and accumulated at least ten years of musical training. This once again supports the recent analysis that musical training can have a powerful impact.

Beethoven’s Bout With Hearing Loss

Hearing loss has been a challenge for some of the world’s most famous composers and musicians. Most notably, Ludwig van Beethoven who began to lose his hearing in his 20’s.

Though Beethoven’s young childhood musical training would be considered severe by present standards, the groundwork of the training might have been the gateway to prolonging his career as a composer. Through the last 10 years of his life, Beethoven was, in fact, nearly entirely deaf. Amazingly, it was over the last 15 years of his life that Beethoven composed some of his most popular pieces.

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References

Can children with hearing loss benefit from music and singing?

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-12-musical-affects-speech.html

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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