Musicians may have better hearing than the rest of us, according to a new Canadian study – which found that playing an instrument throughout your life protects your hearing in old age.
Published in Psychology and Aging, the study centered on a series of hearing tests that were done on 74 musicians, and 89 people of the non-musical variety.
The musicians studied had all played since the age of 16, were still practising and had been given formal music training.
The study found that the hearing of a 70-year-old musician was as good as that of a 50-year-old person who did not play an instrument.
It also found that musicians were much better at picking out speech against noise.
A research team at the Rotman Research Institute in Toronto, studied adults from ages 18 to 91.
The BBC reported that hearing normally declines as we age:
By 60, 10-30 percent of people have moderate hearing loss. By 80, that goes up to as many as 60 percent.
Benjamin Zendel, who was part of the research team, told the BBC:
We found that being a musician may contribute to better hearing in old age by delaying some of the age-related changes in central auditory processing.
This advantage widened considerably for musicians as they got older when compared to similar-aged non-musicians.
The group Action on Hearing Loss called for all people to be vigilant in preventing hearing loss in the first place, by using “appropriate ear protection”.