Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Musicians Have Faster Reactions

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Musicians Have Faster Reactions

Article excerpt

Could learning to play a musical instrument help the elderly react faster and stay alert? Quite likely, according to a new study. The study shows that musicians have faster reaction times to sensory stimuli than do non-musicians. And that has implications for preventing some effects of aging, said lead researcher Simon Landry.

"As people get older," Landry said, "we know their reaction times get slower. So if we know that playing a musical instrument increases reaction times, then maybe playing an instrument will be helpful for them."

In his study, Landry compared the reaction times of 16 musicians and 19 non-musicians. They sat in a quiet, well-lit room with one hand on a computer mouse and the index finger of the other on a vibro-tactile device, a small box that vibrated intermittently.

They were told to click on the mouse when they heard a sound (a burst of white noise) from the speakers in front of them, when the box vibrated, or when both happened.

Each of the three stimulations--audio, tactile, and audio-tactile--was done 180 times. …

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