The chicken and working memory egg

Musicians have been found to have higher capacity for something called speech-in-noise. This is the ability to hear and understand speech in a noisy environment. This is interesting to researchers because this ability is one of the most commonly reported effects of hearing loss and the one that often leads sufferers withdrawing from social situations as well as push them to get that hearing test they have been putting off.

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This study found that “music training does not provide an advantage in adverse listening situations either in terms of improved speech understanding or reduced LE (listening effect)”. Instead they found that the level of someone’s working memory provides more of an advantage to speech-in-noise perception.

Interesting other studies have found that musically trained people also have high levels of working memory. In these studies researchers have tried to determine if high levels of working memory were present prior to music learning (and therefore may have made music learning easier and more enjoyable and engaging) or if music learning actually improved working memory. It is one of the many chicken and egg dilemmas that exist in this field of research.

It is worth remembering that while we know a lot of about the brain, there is far more we don’t know. Memory is one of the areas that we are only just scratching the surface, possible because the creation, storage and retrieval of a memory is both incredibly individual and based on a very intricate series of sensory and cognitive tags.

We will keep an eye on this field of research for you as it progresses.

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