Nina Kraus of Northwestern University said compared to peers with no musical training, adults with several years of musical training as children had enhanced brain responses to listening and the complex processing of sound, making them more effective at pulling out the fundamental frequency of the sound signal.
The fundamental frequency -- the lowest frequency in sound -- is crucial for speech and music perception, allowing recognition of sounds in complex and noisy auditory environments, Kraus said.
"Thus, musical training as children makes better listeners later in life," Kraus said in a statement. "Based on what we already know about the ways that music helps shape the brain, the study suggests that short-term music lessons may enhance lifelong listening and learning."
The study was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
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