Monday, September 19, 2011

Musicians Maintain Their Hearing As They Get Older

I was somewhat amazed to find the following article on mediplacements regarding musicians maintaining their hearing as they get older. I think the reason is that musicians and engineers learn how to listen, and therefore are able to be more selective as they age.

The problem for all musicians (as was pointed out to me by Mead Killion of Etymotics on a panel of a recent ASCAP seminar) is that musicians tend to lose their hearing in particular frequency bands, but learn to compensate while it's happening. Anyway, here's the good news from the original article.
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"Lifelong musicians experience fewer hearing problems in old age than those who do not play an instrument, it has been revealed.

A study published in journal Psychology and Aging studied musicians who had began their training by the age of 16 and continued to practice until the day of testing.

It was found that when it came to detecting sounds which grew increasingly quieter, musicians did not have an advantage in old age.

Despite this, when it came to detecting a gap in sounds, identifying the relationship between different sound frequencies and the ability to hear speech among background noise, musicians fared better than their non-musical counterparts.

This suggests that being a lifelong musician could combat age-related changes in the brain due to the constant use of their auditory systems on a high basis.

Lead investigator Benjamin Rich Zendel said: "What we found was that being a musician may contribute to better hearing in old age by delaying some of the age-related changes in central auditory processing.

"This advantage widened considerably for musicians as they got older when compared to similar-aged non-musicians.""
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2 comments:

Nathan Hulse said...

Interesting post. I still use hearing protection if I play with loud bands. Pete Townsend of the Who has lost much of his hearing. They were a LOUD band though.

Bret said...

Interesting inded. Just last night, I cautioned some young musicians about loud volume and pointed them to Paul Gilbert's interviews in Guitar Player for more information. Having worked with power saws and other loud, constant frequency equipment for 20 years, I can attest to certain losses, and certain frequencies actually cause me physical pain, now.

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