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Learning to play musical instruments helps react faster in old age

Washington: Do you want to be remain mentally active and respond early in old age?

A new study finds that learning how a musical instrument plays early in life may help you react faster and stay alert in golden years of your life.

According to University Of Montreal researchers in Canada musicians have faster reaction times to sensory stimuli than non-musicians.

The study appears in the journal Brain and Cognition, “And that has implications for preventing some effects of aging,” said lead study author Simon Landry.

“The more we know about the impact of music on really basic sensory processes, the more we can apply musical training to individuals who might have slower reaction times,” Landry added.

“As people get older, for example, we know their reaction times get slower. So if we know that playing a musical instrument increases reaction times, then maybe playing an instrument will be helpful for them.”

The compared the reaction times of 16 musicians and 19 non-musicians. The musicians were recruited from UdeM’s music faculty, started playing between ages three and 10, and had at least seven years of training.

They were sat in a quiet, well-lit room with one hand on a computer mouse and the index finger of the other on a vibro-tactile device, a small box that vibrated intermittently.

They were asked to click on the mouse when they heard a sound (a burst of white noise) from the speakers in front of them or when the box vibrated, or when both happened and was done 180 times.

The participants wore earplugs to mask any buzzing “audio clue” when the box vibrated. “We found significantly faster reaction times with musicians for auditory, tactile and audio-tactile stimulations,” Landry wrote.

These results suggest for the first time that long-term musical training reduces simple non-musical auditory, tactile and multisensory reaction times.

“The idea is to better understand how playing a musical instrument affects the senses in a way that is not related to music,” he noted.

ANI