Playing a musical instrument in childhood could lead to better aging

You see the character of Guillaume Canet in the film Rock’n Roll, released in 2017, who can remind you of this guitarist friend eternally linked to his guitar? You might find it hard to envy. Still, know that that old pal might just grow old with a brain sharper than yours.

Indeed, according to a team from the University of Edinburgh, whose work is reported in The Guardian, the cognitive abilities of people who played a musical instrument for a long time in childhood would improve with age. The researchers further found that these results held true regardless of socioeconomic status, current health status, and education of the participants when they were young.

Of the 366 participants in the study, 117 said they had played a musical instrument during childhood and adolescence – mostly piano, but also accordion, bagpipes, guitar and violin. .

Researchers, however, are unable to prove that playing a musical instrument in children consistently induces a sharper mind despite aging. “We must emphasize that the association found between playing an instrument and lifetime cognitive improvement was weak and we cannot prove that the former caused the latter,” comments the teacher Ian Dearyformerly Director of the Center for Research in Cognitive Aging and Cognitive Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh.

The likely benefits
scales and arpeggios

This study nevertheless provides new evidence supporting the theory that associates the practice of a musical instrument with cognitive benefits, admittedly small but detectable over the years. “These results add to the various evidence that shows that mentally challenging activities, such as learning to play a musical instrument, may be associated with better thinking skills,” explains Judith Okely, senior lecturer in psychology at Edinburgh Napier University.

The participants were tested on multiple physical and mental functions as they aged, including re-testing the standardized test of cognitive abilities each of them took at age 11, which included questions requiring verbal reasoning, spatial awareness, and numerical analysis.

The study authors also used statistical models to look for associations between a person’s experience playing a musical instrument and changes in thinking skills between age 11 and age 70. . To broaden the knowledge of this study, the researchers also relied on the results of the survey of the “Lothian Birth Cohort 1936”, a vast Scottish project carried out in 1947 concerning mental health.

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