The expression “Music to my ears” could soon have an entirely different meaning to people dealing with hearing loss.
Researchers at the University of Helsinki and the University College London analyzed the effects of musical activities on hearing loss in children and the results of the study highlighted the effect and benefit obtained by exposing people to music.
Gauging Speech-in-Noise Performance
Researchers observed 43 young children in a 14 to 16 month study where they assessed speech-in-noise performance. 22 of the children enrolled had normal hearing while the other 21 had cochlear implants. The researchers recognized that children with implants had a tough time understanding speech so they created control and test sets which assigned participants to singing and non-singing groups.
The results showed a significant improvement in awareness and speech-in-noise performance for youngsters in the singing group versus their counterparts in the non-singing group.
The Ears Are Trained by Music
This research is only the most recent in a long line of research initiatives that demonstrate the advantages of musical training to enhance cognitive ability and speech processing. In loud environments, speech perception can be enhanced by musical training, and these findings were backed by a study conducted by the Montreal Neurological Institute
That study examined the brain activity of 30 participants, 15 musicians and 15 non-musicians, asking each to identify speech syllables through numerous background noise levels.
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 always hearing impaired, the difference in results amongst those who were musically trained and those who weren’t was considerable.
Musicians Outperform Non-Musicians
The two groups performed equally under conditions with no noise, but the musicians would separate themselves as the study went on, outperforming non-musicians at all other signal-to-noise rates. 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 there’s more to the benefits of the musical training identified by Dr. Yi and Robert’s research. The auditory motor network is refined 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 studied 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 powerful impact and this once again backs that fact.
The Affect of Hearing Loss on Beethoven
Hearing loss has been a problem for some of the world’s most celebrated composers and musicians. Probably the most famous deaf composer, Ludwig van Beethoven was able to hear when he was born, but that began to deteriorate while he was in his late 20s.
The early groundwork of Beethoven’s training, though severe, was probably the conduit for prolonging his musical career. During the last decade of his life, Beethoven was, in fact, nearly completely deaf. In spite of that, many of his most cherished works came during his last 15 years.