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Short-Term Choir Singing Supports Speech-in-Noise Perception and Neural Pitch Strength in Older Adults With Age-Related Hearing Loss

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posted on 2024-03-20, 17:18 authored by Ella Dubinsky, Emily A. Wood, Gabriel A. Nespoli, Frank RussoFrank Russo

Prior studies have demonstrated musicianship enhancements of various aspects of auditory and cognitive processing in older adults, but musical training has rarely been examined as an intervention for mitigating age-related declines in these abilities. The current study investigates whether 10 weeks of choir participation can improve aspects of auditory processing in older adults, particularly speech-in-noise (SIN) perception. A choir-singing group and an age- and audiometrically-matched do-nothing control group underwent pre- and post-testing over a 10-week period. Linear mixed effects modeling in a regression analysis showed that choir participants demonstrated improvements in speech-in-noise perception, pitch discrimination ability, and the strength of the neural representation of speech fundamental frequency. Choir participants’ gains in SIN perception were mediated by improvements in pitch discrimination, which was in turn predicted by the strength of the neural representation of speech stimuli (FFR), suggesting improvements in pitch processing as a possible mechanism for this SIN perceptual improvement. These findings support the hypothesis that short-term choir participation is an effective intervention for mitigating age-related hearing losses.

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