HEARING TIPS

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The phrase “Music to my ears” could soon have a very different meaning to people dealing with hearing loss.

Researchers at the University of Helsinki and the University College London examined the effects of musical experiences on hearing loss in children and the results of the study highlighted the effect and benefit received by exposing people to music.

Evaluating Speech-in-Noise Performance

Researchers observed 43 young children in a 14 to 16 month study where they measured speech-in-noise performance. 22 of the children observed had normal hearing while the other 21 had cochlear implants. Armed with the knowledge that the children with implants had a hard time understanding speech perception before the start 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, a remarkable improvement in awareness and speech-in-noise performance was revealed compared to children in the non-singing group.

The Ears Are Trained by Music

This study is only the most recent in a long line of research endeavors that illustrate the benefits of musical training to enhance cognitive ability and speech processing. In loud environments, speech perception can be improved by musical training, and these results were corroborated by a study conducted by the Montreal Neurological Institute

Identifying speech syllables through a number 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, in contrast to the Helsinki/London study, averaged 22 years old. While participants weren’t necessarily hearing impaired, the difference in results amongst individuals who were trained musically and those who weren’t was substantial.

Musicians Outperform Non-Musicians

The two groups performed similarly under conditions without any noise, but the musicians would distinguish themselves as the study continued, outperforming non-musicians at all other signal-to-noise ratios. It’s likely that the ability to perform well on these tests was due to enhancements to the left interior frontal and right auditory regions located within the brains of the musicians.

But there’s more to the benefits of the musical training revealed by Dr. Yi and Robert’s research. The auditory motor network is fine-tuned and united to the auditory system and speech motor system by this musical training according to this study.

It’s significant 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. Musical training has a powerful impact and this once again supports that fact.

Beethoven’s Bout With Hearing Loss

Some of the world’s most distinguished musicians and composers have struggled with hearing loss. Most notably, Ludwig van Beethoven who began to lose his hearing in his 20’s.

Though Beethoven’s early childhood musical education would be considered extreme by today’s standards, the groundwork of the training may have been the gateway to prolonging his career as a composer. In fact, Beethoven actually lived the last decade of his life nearly totally deaf. Amazingly, it was over the last 15 years of his life that Beethoven wrote some of his most renowned 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

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