A new study conducted by University of Kansas researchers has discovered that older adults who took music lessons during their youth may actually have forged new kinds of brain connections that help them stay sharp during the golden years.
The team evaluated 70 adults age 60 to 83 and found that those who had the most experience in music performed better on several cognitive tests than their peers. Most of the musicians had begun playing an instrument at age 10.
More than half had taken piano lessons and a quarter had learned woodwind instruments such as clarinet or flute.
"Musical activity throughout life may serve as a challenging cognitive exercise, making your brain fitter and more capable of accommodating the challenges of aging," said lead researcher Brenda Hanna-Pladdy.
The researchers speculate that these cognitive effects could also help keep one sharper during retirement living and may even protect against neurological disorders like Alzheimer's disease.
Music doesn't just benefit those who play it - one study found that seniors whose sleep was disturbed by depression, anxiety or medications could achieve a higher sleep quality by listening to tunes while getting ready for bed.