The University of Montreal just published a study pitting the reaction times of 16 skilled musicians against those of 19 non-musicians. The musicians included eight pianists, three violinists, two percussionists, one double bassist, one harpist, and a viola player, all of whom had started playing their instrument before the age of 10 and had at least seven years of practice.

The study’s participants were asked to place one index finger on a vibrating box and listen to a speaker in the room. They were to click a computer mouse when either the box vibrated, the speaker emitted noise, or both occurred simultaneously. The results were unanimous that both multi and uni-sensory reaction times were significantly faster with the skilled musicians.

“These results suggest for the first time that long-term musical training reduces simple non-musical auditory, tactile, and multi-sensory reaction times,” said the study’s lead author, PhD student Simon Landry.

It’s an important discovery that backs up other studies of the brain, which links musical learning to increased co-activation between the brain’s different cortexes. Especially regarding the elderly, musical training may actually help prevent mental decline.


Source: IFL Science