Researchers find a link between learning instruments while young and improved thinking skills later in life.
Wednesday, July 26th
Research from the University of Edinburgh has found a connection between learning to play a musical instrument in one’s youth and improved cognitive abilities in old age.
The study showed that individuals with more experience playing an instrument displayed a more significant improvement in a cognitive ability test over their lifetime than those with less or no musical experience.
This correlation was observed even when adjusting for factors like socio-economic status, education years, childhood cognitive ability, and health in older age. However, Professor Emeritus Ian Deary emphasized that the found association between instrument playing and lifetime cognitive improvement was small and didn’t conclusively prove causation(Source: University of Edinburgh).
The study focused on the correlation between playing a musical instrument and healthy aging. Among the 366 participants, 117 had some experience playing a musical instrument, primarily during their childhood and adolescence. The most frequently played instrument was the piano, but a wide range of instruments, including the accordion, bagpipes, guitar, and violin, were also played.
Participants were part of the “Lothian Birth Cohort 1936,” a group of individuals from Edinburgh and the Lothians born in 1936 who participated in the Scottish Mental Survey of 1947. As they grew older, these individuals underwent various physical and mental function tests, including revisiting a standardized cognitive ability test they took at age 11.
At age 70, cohort members were asked about their lifetime musical experiences as researchers sought to determine if the musical experience is related to healthy aging. The study used statistical models to find potential associations between an individual’s experience playing a musical instrument and changes in their cognitive abilities between ages 11 and 70.
The findings suggest that playing a musical instrument may contribute to healthier brain aging. However, the researchers emphasized that these results are preliminary and further investigation is needed to confirm the link between musical activity and healthy aging.
This article based on “Playing music in childhood linked to a sharper mind in old age, study suggests,” published on theguardian.com