For individuals who have hearing loss, the expression “music to my ears” may have a completely new meaning.
Researchers at the University of Helsinki and the University College London evaluated the effects of musical experiences on hearing loss in children and the outcome of the study highlighted the effect and benefit received by exposing people to music.
Gauging Speech-in-Noise Performance
Researchers looked at 43 young kids in a 14 to 16 month study where they assessed speech-in-noise performance. Of those observed, 21 children had cochlear implants, while the remaining 22 had normal hearing ability. 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 kids in the singing group, a significant improvement in awareness and speech-in-noise performance was revealed in comparison with children in the non-singing group.
Music Trains The Ear
There is a tremendous amount of research showing the advantages to cognitive ability and speech processing provided by musical training and this study is just one of them. In noisy environments, speech perception can be improved by musical training, and these findings were backed by a study carried out by the Montreal Neurological Institute
Identifying speech syllables through a variety of background noises was the objective of this study which used 15 musicians and 15 non-musicians.
The ages of the participants in the research by Drs. Yi and Roberts, in contrast to the Helsinki/London study, averaged 22 years old. While participants weren’t necessarily hearing impaired, the difference in results amongst those who were musically trained and those who weren’t was significant.
Musicians Outperform Non-Musicians
The two groups performed equally under conditions with no noise, but the musicians would separate themselves as the study went on, outperforming non-musicians at all other signal-to-noise ratios. It’s likely that the ability to perform well on these tests was a result of enhancements to the left interior frontal and right auditory parts located inside of the brains of the musicians.
But there’s more to the benefits of the musical training revealed by Dr. Yi and Robert’s study. According to the study’s conclusions, musical training strengthened the participant’s auditory-motor network, fine-tuning and uniting the auditory system and speech motor system to improve hearing.
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 powerful impact and this once again backs that fact.
The Impact of Hearing Loss on Beethoven
Hearing loss has been a problem for some of the world’s most renowned composers and musicians. Probably the most well-known deaf composer, Ludwig van Beethoven was able to hear when he was born, but that started to decline while he was in his late 20s.
Though Beethoven’s young childhood musical education would be regarded as severe by today’s standards, the foundation of the training might have been the gateway to prolonging his career as a composer. As a matter of fact, Beethoven actually spent the last 10 years of his life almost totally deaf. Despite that, many of his most beloved works came over his last 15 years.