Age-related delays in neural timing are not inevitable and can be avoided or offset with musical training. Northwestern University (Illinois, USA) researchers provide key biological evidence that demonstrates that a lifelong musical experience has a beneficial impact on the aging process.

Nina Kraus and colleagues measured the automatic brain responses of younger and older musicians and non-musicians to speech sound, finding that older musicians not only outperformed their older non-musician counterparts, they encoded the sound stimuli as quickly and accurately as the younger non-musicians. Showing that musical experience selectively affected the timing of sound elements that are important in distinguishing one consonant from another, the study authors conclude that: “we document a musician’s resilience to age-related delays in neural timing.”

[Alexandra Parbery-Clark, Samira Anderson, Emily Hittner, Nina Kraus. “Musical experience offsets age-related delays in neural timing.” Neurobiology of Aging, 9 January 2012.]