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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnins.2019.01153

Short-term choir singing supports speech-in-noise perception and neural pitch strength in older adults with age-related hearing loss

  • 1Department of Psychology, Ryerson University, Canada
  • 2Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University Health Network, Canada

Prior studies have demonstrated musicianship enhancements of various aspects of auditory and cognitive processing in older adults, but musical training has rarely been examined as an intervention for mitigating age-related declines in these abilities. The current study investigates whether ten weeks of choir participation can improve aspects of auditory processing in older adults, particularly speech-in-noise (SIN) perception. A choir-singing group and an age- and audiometrically-matched do-nothing control group underwent pre- and post-testing over a ten-week period. Linear mixed effects modelling in a multilevel regression analysis showed that choir participants demonstrated improvements in speech-in-noise perception, pitch discrimination ability, and the strength of the neural representation of speech fundamental frequency. Choir participants’ gains in SIN perception were mediated by improvements in pitch discrimination, which was in turn predicted by the strength of the neural representation of speech stimuli (FFR), suggesting improvements in pitch processing as a possible mechanism for this SIN perceptual improvement. These findings support the hypothesis that short-term choir participation is an effective intervention for mitigating age-related hearing losses.

Keywords: Aging, musical training, Speech-in-noise (SIN) perception, Frequency, Hearing

Received: 05 Jul 2019; Accepted: 11 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Dubinsky, Wood, Nespoli and Russo. 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) and the copyright owner(s) 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.

* Correspondence: Mx. Ella Dubinsky, Department of Psychology, Ryerson University, Toronto, M5B 2K3, Ontario, Canada, ella.dubinsky@psych.ryerson.ca