Brain, ageing, and vocal expression

Project: Research project

Description

Singing is a highly complex activity which, with regular training, entails cognitive and neuroplastic benefits, including enhanced working memory function and increased grey matter volume in somatosensory and auditory cortices. In the young adult brain, singing is processed by large-scale frontal, temporal, parietal, and subcortical network, which is more bilateral than the language language and music networks. Ageing induces compensatory neural changes to counter gradual cognitive decline, including a shift towards using more bilateral and prefrontal networks when performing cognitive or verbal tasks that in the young brain engage more local unilateral regions. The impact of ageing on the singing network has, however, not been studied.

This study aims to uncover the effect of ageing on the neural processing of singing by 1) assessing age-related changes in hemispheric asymmetry and prefrontal engagement in the perception and production of singing, humming, and speech and 2) determining how these are mediated by cognitive load and age-related cognitive decline. The study provides valuable information for (i) testing current models on the relationship between language and music, music and emotion, and ageing and cognition and (ii) increasing our understanding of the neural mechanisms mediating the positive emotional, cognitive, and social benefits of singing in ageing.

The study uses a cross-sectional design where amateur choir singers (N = 90) from three age groups (<40, 40-60, and 60+ years) are compared. Methods include behavioural measures of auditory and cognitive skills and vocal production, structural magnetic resonance imaging (sMRI) of grey matter volume, white matter organization, and structural connectivity, and functional MRI (fMRI) with a resting state condition measuring functional connectivity and task conditions measuring activation patterns during vocal expression involving language, music, and singing.
StatusNot started

ID: 123308181