Practicing, listening to music can fight cognitive decline in healthy seniors: Study

Practicing, listening to music can fight cognitive decline in healthy seniors: Study

Baku, April 19, AZERTAC

Practicing and listening to music can help fight the cognitive decline in healthy seniors by stimulating the production of grey matter, a team from three Swiss universities announced, according to Anadolu Agency.

For the study, researchers from the University of Geneva and two other universities followed over 100 retired people who had never practiced music before.

"We wanted people whose brains did not yet show any traces of plasticity linked to musical learning," Damien Marie, the first author of the study, explained in a press release.

"Indeed, even a brief learning experience in the course of one's life can leave imprints on the brain, which would have biased our results."

Marie is a research associate at the CIBM Center for Biomedical Imaging at the University of Geneva and the Geneva School of Health Sciences.

"These results show that practicing and listening to music promotes brain plasticity and cognitive reserve," said the universities in a joint statement.

"The study's authors believe that these playful and accessible interventions should become a major policy priority for healthy aging.”

The study revealed that music practice and active listening could prevent working memory decline after people were enrolled in piano and music awareness training for six months.

"These results open new prospects for the support of healthy aging," the researchers said after their study was reported in the scientific journal NeuroImage.

Music practice activities promoted brain plasticity and were associated with increased grey matter volume.

They said that a positive impact on working memory was also measured.

This study used 132 healthy retirees aged 62 to 78.

The researcher said that throughout people's lives, the brain remodels itself.

Brain morphology and connections change according to the environment and the experiences, for instance, when we learn new skills or overcome the consequences of a stroke.

"However, as we age, this 'brain plasticity' decreases," said the researchers.

"The brain also loses grey matter, where our precious neurons are located. This is known as 'brain atrophy'."

They said that gradually, the cognitive decline appears.

Working memory, at the core of many cognitive processes, is one of the functions suffering the most.

The researchers defined working memory as the process in which people briefly retain and manipulate information to achieve a goal, such as remembering a telephone number long enough to write it down or translating a sentence from a foreign language.

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