The phrase “Music to my ears” may soon have an entirely different meaning for people who have 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 outcome of the study highlighted the impact and benefit received by exposing people to music.
Gauging Speech-in-Noise Performance
Speech-in-noise performance was the principal measure researchers observed, putting 43 young kids in a clinical study for 14 to 17 months. Of those observed, 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 start of the study, researchers introduced control and test sets, assigning participants to a non-singing (control) and singing (test) group.
For children in the singing group, an impressive improvement in awareness and speech-in-noise performance was revealed in comparison with children in the non-singing group.
Music Trains The Ear
This research is just the most recent in a long line of research initiatives that show the advantages of musical training to enhance cognitive ability and speech processing. A study from the Montréal Neurological Institute backed these results and suggested that musical training can enhance speech perception in loud environments.
That study examined 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 amongst individuals who were trained musically and those who weren’t was considerable.
Non-Musicians Were Outperformed By Musicians
When the noise was absent, both groups had similar results, but when any amount of background noise was incorporated, the musicians significantly outperformed the non-musicians. 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 just end there. The auditory motor network is fine-tuned and united to the auditory system and speech motor system by this musical training according to this research.
These adult musicians in this study had all been educated when they were younger and had at least a decade of training. This once again supports the recent analysis that musical training can have a profound impact.
The Affect of Hearing Loss on Beethoven
Hearing loss has been an issue for some of the world’s most renowned composers and musicians. Perhaps the most famous deaf composer, Ludwig van Beethoven was born with the ability to hear, but that started to diminish while he was in his late 20s.
The early foundation of Beethoven’s training, though severe, was probably the gateway for extending his musical career. As a matter of fact, Beethoven actually spent the last decade of his life almost completely deaf. Despite that, many of his most cherished works came over his last 15 years.