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|Title: ||The Effect of Lifelong Musicianship on Age-related Changes in Auditory Processing|
|Authors: ||Zendel, Benjamin Rich|
|Advisor: ||Alain, Claude|
age-related hearing loss
|Issue Date: ||12-Jan-2012|
|Abstract: ||Age-related declines in hearing abilities are common and can be attributed to changes in the peripheral and central levels of the auditory system. Although central auditory
processing is enhanced in younger musicians, the influence of lifelong musicianship on
age-related decline in central auditory processing has not yet been investigated.
Therefore, the purpose of this dissertation was to investigate whether lifelong
musicianship can mitigate age-related decline in central auditory processing. In the first experiment, age-related declines on four hearing assessments were compared between musicians and non-musicians. Speech-in-noise and gap-detection thresholds were found to decline at a slower rate in musicians, providing an increasing advantage with age.
Furthermore, musicians had a lifelong advantage in detecting a mistuned harmonic,
although the rate of age-related decline was similar for both musicians and non-musicians.
Importantly, there was no significant effect of musicianship on pure-tone thresholds,
suggesting that lifelong musicianship can mitigate age-related decline in central but not peripheral auditory processing. To test this hypothesis, a second experiment compared
auditory evoked responses (AERs) between groups of older and younger musicians and non-musicians. Results indicated that exogenous neural activity was enhanced in
musicians, but that age-related changes were similar between musicians and nonmusicians.
Furthermore, endogenous, attention-dependent neural activity was enhanced in
older adults, suggesting a compensatory cognitive strategy. Importantly, endogenous
activity was preferentially enhanced in older musicians, suggesting that lifelong
musicianship enhanced cognitive processes related to auditory perception. In the final
experiment, the ability to segregate simultaneous sounds was tested in older and younger musicians and non-musicians by using a mistuned harmonic paradigm, where AERs to
harmonic complexes were compared to AERs when one of the harmonics was mistuned. Results indicated that musical training in older adults has little effect on early automatic registration of the mistuned harmonic. In contrast, late attention-dependent activity, associated with the perception of the mistuned harmonic as a separate sound, was influenced by musical training in older adults, suggesting that lifelong musicianship preserves or enhances cognitive components of concurrent sound segregation. In summary, musical training was found to reduce age-related decline in hearing abilities due to enhanced central processing of auditory information.|
|Appears in Collections:||Doctoral|
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