Proslogion: A group of scientists showed that people who are actively involved in playing a musical instrument are less likely to experience declines in neural timing as they age. This caused the researchers to wonder exactly how powerful music is in maintaining good neural timing. As a result, they decided to study whether or not a person has to be actively involved in music to experience its neural timing benefits. They took 44 adults (aged 55-76), some with normal hearing and some with hearing loss, and measured their brain’s neural timing ability, concentrating on the neural timing necessary to understand transitions between consonants and vowels (what they call “CV transitions”).
All of the adults had been given instrumental music lessons at some point in their youth, but the length over which this instruction took place varied from 1 to 14 years. However, they all had stopped playing their instrument long ago. One had stopped playing only 37 years ago, but most had not played for 50 years or more. One subject who had been given 3 years of piano and violin training had stopped playing 61 years ago.
So while all of the adults had been given music lessons on an instrument, they had stopped playing decades ago. Nevertheless, when the researchers measured their neural timing, they found that the longer they had been given instrumental lessons, the better their neural timing was! As the authors state: