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      Effects of music learning and piano practice on cognitive function, mood and quality of life in older adults


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          Reading music and playing a musical instrument is a complex activity that comprises motor and multisensory (auditory, visual, and somatosensory) integration in a unique way. Music has also a well-known impact on the emotional state, while it can be a motivating activity. For those reasons, musical training has become a useful framework to study brain plasticity. Our aim was to study the specific effects of musical training vs. the effects of other leisure activities in elderly people. With that purpose we evaluated the impact of piano training on cognitive function, mood and quality of life (QOL) in older adults. A group of participants that received piano lessons and did daily training for 4-month ( n = 13) was compared to an age-matched control group ( n = 16) that participated in other types of leisure activities (physical exercise, computer lessons, painting lessons, among other). An exhaustive assessment that included neuropsychological tests as well as mood and QOL questionnaires was carried out before starting the piano program and immediately after finishing (4 months later) in the two groups. We found a significant improvement on the piano training group on the Stroop test that measures executive function, inhibitory control and divided attention. Furthermore, a trend indicating an enhancement of visual scanning and motor ability was also found (Trial Making Test part A). Finally, in our study piano lessons decreased depression, induced positive mood states, and improved the psychological and physical QOL of the elderly. Our results suggest that playing piano and learning to read music can be a useful intervention in older adults to promote cognitive reserve (CR) and improve subjective well-being.

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          Most cited references50

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          Hemispheric asymmetry reduction in older adults: the HAROLD model.

          A model of the effects of aging on brain activity during cognitive performance is introduced. The model is called HAROLD (hemispheric asymmetry reduction in older adults), and it states that, under similar circumstances, prefrontal activity during cognitive performances tends to be less lateralized in older adults than in younger adults. The model is supported by functional neuroimaging and other evidence in the domains of episodic memory, semantic memory, working memory, perception, and inhibitory control. Age-related hemispheric asymmetry reductions may have a compensatory function or they may reflect a dedifferentiation process. They may have a cognitive or neural origin, and they may reflect regional or network mechanisms. The HAROLD model is a cognitive neuroscience model that integrates ideas and findings from psychology and neuroscience of aging.
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            Neural mechanisms of ageing and cognitive decline.

            During the past century, treatments for the diseases of youth and middle age have helped raise life expectancy significantly. However, cognitive decline has emerged as one of the greatest health threats of old age, with nearly 50% of adults over the age of 85 afflicted with Alzheimer's disease. Developing therapeutic interventions for such conditions demands a greater understanding of the processes underlying normal and pathological brain ageing. Recent advances in the biology of ageing in model organisms, together with molecular and systems-level studies of the brain, are beginning to shed light on these mechanisms and their potential roles in cognitive decline.
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              Music training for the development of auditory skills.

              The effects of music training in relation to brain plasticity have caused excitement, evident from the popularity of books on this topic among scientists and the general public. Neuroscience research has shown that music training leads to changes throughout the auditory system that prime musicians for listening challenges beyond music processing. This effect of music training suggests that, akin to physical exercise and its impact on body fitness, music is a resource that tones the brain for auditory fitness. Therefore, the role of music in shaping individual development deserves consideration.

                Author and article information

                Front Psychol
                Front Psychol
                Front. Psychol.
                Frontiers in Psychology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                01 November 2013
                : 4
                : 810
                [1] 1Department of Systems Neuroscience, Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer Barcelona, Spain
                [2] 2Franz Liszt Music School Barcelona, Spain
                [3] 3Psychology Unit, Hospital General de Granollers, FIDMAG, CIBERSAM Barcelona, Spain
                [4] 4Institució Catalana Recerca i Estudis Avançats Barcelona, Spain
                [5] 5Department of Basic Psychology, Universidad de Barcelona Barcelona, Spain
                Author notes

                Edited by: Robert J. Zatorre, McGill University, Canada

                Reviewed by: Mireille Besson, Institut de Neurosciences Cognitives de la Meditarranée, France; Shinya Fujii, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, USA

                *Correspondence: Sofia Seinfeld, Department of Systems Neuroscience, Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer, Roselló 149-153, 08036 Barcelona, España e-mail: seinfeld@ 123456clinic.ub.es

                This article was submitted to Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

                Copyright © 2013 Seinfeld, Figueroa, Ortiz-Gil and Sanchez-Vives.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                : 01 July 2013
                : 13 October 2013
                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 5, Equations: 0, References: 90, Pages: 13, Words: 11645
                Original Research Article

                Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry
                music,piano,brain plasticity,aging,elderly,training,cognitive function,quality of life


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