Health Discoveries in General Health News

Early musical training may improve cognitive skills

April 26, 2011
A new study at Emory University School of Medicine found that childhood hours spent pounding the piano keys or practicing clarinet may have a big pay-off later in life.

CBSNews.com reports that researchers found older adults who have musical experience score higher on cognitive tests than those who didn't study music. Published online in the journal Neuropsychology, the neuroscience study mirrored findings of previous studies on tasks that tend to protect against the development of dementia.

"Musical activity throughout life may serve as a challenging cognitive exercise, making your brain fitter and more capable of accommodating the challenges of aging," said Emory neurologist Brenda Hanna-Pladdy in a statement. "Since studying an instrument requires years of practice and learning, it may create alternate connections in the brain that could compensate for cognitive declines as we get older."

The study involved 70 individuals aged 60 to 83 split into three groups. Those who studied music the longest performed best on tests of verbal functioning, memory and attention.

Within the North Shore-LIJ Health System, a study on how the aging process and genes affect mental skills such as memory is focused on DNA from patients with neurological diseases to understand the connection of mental abilities and genetic variations.
 
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