Amateur singing benefits speech perception in aging under certain conditions of practice: behavioural and neurobiological mechanisms.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Brain Struct Funct, Volume 227, Issue 3, p.943-962 (2022)


Music, Noise, Singing, Speech, Speech Perception


<p>Limited evidence has shown that practising musical activities in aging, such as choral singing, could lessen age-related speech perception in noise (SPiN) difficulties. However, the robustness and underlying mechanism of action of this phenomenon remain unclear. In this study, we used surface-based morphometry combined with a moderated mediation analytic approach to examine whether singing-related plasticity in auditory and dorsal speech stream regions is associated with better SPiN capabilities. 36 choral singers and 36 non-singers aged 20-87 years underwent cognitive, auditory, and SPiN assessments. Our results provide important new insights into experience-dependent plasticity by revealing that, under certain conditions of practice, amateur choral singing is associated with age-dependent structural plasticity within auditory and dorsal speech regions, which is associated with better SPiN performance in aging. Specifically, the conditions of practice that were associated with benefits on SPiN included frequent weekly practice at home, several hours of weekly group singing practice, singing in multiple languages, and having received formal singing training. These results suggest that amateur choral singing is associated with improved SPiN through a dual mechanism involving auditory processing and auditory-motor integration and may be dose dependent, with more intense singing associated with greater benefit. Our results, thus, reveal that the relationship between singing practice and SPiN is complex, and underscore the importance of considering singing practice behaviours in understanding the effects of musical activities on the brain-behaviour relationship.</p>

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