For people who have hearing loss, the phrase “music to my ears” could take on a whole new meaning.
Researchers at the University of Helsinki and the University College London evaluated the effects of musical activities on hearing loss in children and the outcome of the study highlighted the impact and benefit obtained by exposing people to music.
Gauging Speech-in-Noise Performance
Speech-in-noise performance was the key measure researchers observed, putting 43 young kids in a clinical study for 14 to 17 months. 22 of the children observed had normal hearing while the remaining 21 had cochlear implants. knowing that the children with implants had difficulty understanding speech perception before the beginning of the study, researchers introduced control and test sets, assigning participants to a non-singing (control) and singing (test) group.
For children in the singing group, a significant improvement in awareness and speech-in-noise performance was observed in comparison with children in the non-singing group.
Music Trains The Ear
There is a great deal of research showing the benefits to cognitive ability and speech processing offered by musical training and this research is only one of them. A study from the Montréal Neurological Institute corroborated these findings and indicated that musical training can enhance speech perception in noisy environments.
Identifying speech syllables through a number of background noises was the goal of this study which used 15 musicians and 15 non-musicians.
The ages of the participants in the research by Drs. Yi and Roberts, unlike the Helsinki/London study, averaged 22 years old. These participants had normal hearing but there was a substantial difference in results between the non-musicians and musicians.
Non-Musicians Were Outperformed By Musicians
The two groups performed similarly under conditions with no noise, but the musicians would distinguish themselves as the study continued, outperforming non-musicians at all other signal-to-noise ratios. Musicians have enhanced left interior frontal and right auditory areas of the brain which most likely accounts for this ability to perform well on these tests.
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 research.
These adult musicians in this study had all been educated when they were younger and had at least ten years of training. Musical training has a profound effect and this once again supports that fact.
The Impact of Hearing Loss on Beethoven
Some of the world’s most well-known musicians and composers have struggled with hearing loss. Perhaps the most famous deaf composer, Ludwig van Beethoven was born with the ability to hear, but that began to deteriorate while he was in his late 20s.
Although Beethoven’s early childhood musical training would be considered severe by today’s standards, the groundwork of the training may have been the gateway to prolonging his career as a composer. During the last decade of his life, Beethoven was, in fact, almost completely deaf. Incredibly, it was during the last 15 years of his life that Beethoven wrote some of his most renowned pieces.