Better thank your parents for putting you through those piano or violin lessons, as The Huffington Post reports that individuals who learned music when they were young may have better speech-related cognitive responses than those who didn’t.

Researchers from Northwestern University worked with 44 volunteers aged 55 to 76 years old and had them listen to the syllable “da.” The team then measured the electrical activity of their auditory brainstem and found that those who took lessons for four to 14 years responded a millisecond faster than those without training..

“Being a millisecond faster may not seem like much, but the brain is very sensitive to timing and a millisecond compounded over millions of neurons can make a real difference in the lives of older adults,” explains Michael Kilgard, Ph.D., of University of Texas at Dallas. “These findings confirm that the investments that we make in our brains early in life continue to pay dividends years later.”

Other studies have also shown the positive effects of early musical training, including better sensorimotor synchronisation, and an increase in white brain matter in the corpus callosum, which connects the motor regions of the right and the left side of the brain.

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(Photo by Sean MacEntee via Flickr Creative Commons)

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