The influence of piano training on cognitive and neural functioning in older adults
Thorne, Sarah Anna
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Introduction: This study investigated the effects of a piano training intervention on neural and cognitive functioning in healthy older adults. Method: 20 healthy older adults (age 65-85) who had no prior musical experience were recruited. Participants were either randomized into an experimental group that underwent six months of piano training or into a music listening control group. In order to evaluate the effects of training, behavioral cognition testing and high-density electroencephalography (based on evaluating the mismatch negativity, MMN) were conducted. Results: Between-subjects analyses at six months found that the piano group exhibited better performance on tasks of inhibition and verbal memory. Within subjects analyses revealed that the piano group improved in verbal memory and reasoning. The piano group also had a greater response to pitch changes as reflected by the MMN. Conclusion: Short-term piano training influences verbal memory, executive functioning, and pre-attentive processing of sounds in older adults.