Older people often have difficulty in distinguishing what people are saying in crowded rooms or where there is lots of background noise. Poor readers - including people with dyslexia - have similar problems as, although they have normal hearing, their brain poorly transcribes sounds that are important for good reading skills. New research from Northwestern University in Illinois suggests that musical training - which includes the ability to hear particular notes within a framework of melodies and harmonies - could help with these problems. The researchers studied 31 people, some of whom had musical training, who had to listen to sentences presented in increasingly noisy conditions and repeat back what they heard. The participants with better working memory and a better ability to distinguish between notes did better on the test implying that musical training enhances the ability to hear speech in challenging listening environments.
You can find out more about this research at