For years there have been a number of not-for-profit organizations committed to saving music education in schools nationwide. A new study conducted at the Emory University School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology, demonstrates why music is necessity to life.
Brenda Hanna-Pladdy, Ph.D, lead study author and clinical neuropsychologist, discovered that those who have had instrumental musical training for more than 10 years remained cognitively sharp.
Results demonstrated musicians between the ages of 60-80 years' old experienced cognitive benefits including a variety of verbal and nonverbal functions. Researchers assessed musical engagement to determine whether there is key connection in the period of musical training for optimal cognitive advantages in advanced age. Though it was displayed that having years of musical instrumental experience can lead to the best cognition in advanced age, there are time periods over the span of one’s life where music aids in cognitive development.
For instance, before the age of nine, predicted verbal working memory functions such as remembering and reorganizing digits in your head, consistent with early sensitive periods in brain development. Continued musical activity in advanced age suggests other non-verbal abilities such as being able to determine visual representations and their spatial relationships. While for those who have low educational levels, instrumental musical training can help cushion out the lack of a higher education.
Furthermore, for musicians who played for more than 10 years, the benefits do not rely on sustained activity.
"This is an exciting finding in light of recent evidence suggesting that high educational levels are likely to yield cognitive reserve that may potentially delay the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms or cognitive decline," Hanna-Pladdy said. "This also highlights the promising role of musical activity as a form of cognitive enrichment across the lifespan, and it raises the question of whether musical training should eventually be considered an alternative form of educational training."
Hanna-Pladdy suggest to achieve the most results out of instrumental musical training one should begin before the age of nine and play for at least 10 years. She also reaffirms that it is "never too late so keep at it."
This study was published in the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.