It’s Never Too Late to Benefit from Music Lessons

From a study by Bugos JA, Perlstein WM, McCrae CS, Brophy TS, and Bedenbaugh PH :

This study evaluates transfer from domain-specific, sensorimotor training to cognitive abilities associated with executive function. We examined Individualized Piano Instruction (IPI) as a potential cognitive intervention to mitigate normal age-related cognitive decline in older adults. Thirty-one musically naive community-dwelling older adults (ages 60-85) were randomly assigned to either the experimental group (n = 16) or control group (n = 15). Neuropsychological assessments were administered at three time points: pre-training, following six months of intervention, and following a three-month delay. The experimental group significantly improved performance on the Trail Making Test and Digit Symbol measures as compared to healthy controls. Results of this study suggest that IPI may serve as an effective cognitive intervention for age-related cognitive decline. [emphasis added]

Yet another in a series of studies indicating that neuroplasticity remains well into the final years of life. By taking individual piano lessons, these seniors improved their cognitive functioning even after a three-month cessation in lessons, thereby showing how thinking benefits even after the lessons were stopped.

light sepia photograph of older woman playing a console piano with many pictures in frames on the top, older man sits in an armchair to her left, reading.

My Parents in the Living Room, 2011
Max Ferguson

Learning to play music is not just about whether you want to play an instrument, any more than exercise is about wanting to become a professional athlete. It’s all a part of a healthy lifestyle and presumed lack of talent or interest should be no barrier. After all, how many of us love going to the gym?

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