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A musician’s timing and coordination through an instrument could improve general reaction time, according to a new study.

The comparison of musicians and non-musicians at the Université de Montréal’s School of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology contend in a new study in the journal Brain and Cognition that those able to make music had quicker reactions to various stimuli.

“These results suggest for the first time that long-term musical training reduces simple non-musical auditory, tactile, and multisensory reactions times,” write the authors.

Sixteen musicians and 19 non-musicians were compared. The subjects were sat, one by one, in a quiet but bright room. In front of them were speakers. One hand was put on a computer mouse. The other was placed on a device that could vibrate. They were asked to react when they heard a noise, felt a buzz, or both.

The musicians – most of whom were multi-instrumentalists – started playing between the ages of 3 and 10, and had trained for at least seven years.

The reaction times were faster at a statistically significant level, the scientists concluded.

“We found significantly faster reaction times with musicians for auditory, tactical and audio-tactile stimulations,” write the authors. “These results strongly point towards musicians being better at integrating the inputs from various senses.”

Music has been touted as a panacea in a huge amount of uses: pain relief, reducing blood pressure, increasing intelligence and memory, and mitigating depression are some of the many effects connected to the sweet strains. The Université de Montréal’s study is just the latest to extol the benefits.

“The more we know about the impact of music on really basic sensory processes, the more we can apply musical training to individuals who might have slower reaction times,” said Simon Landry, lead author.

 

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