Exploring the effects of piano study on cognitive function in senior adults
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The purpose of this study was to examine whether exposure to a 6-week piano class would have an impact on specific cognitive functions (attention, short-term memory, and planning) in senior adults. In addition, I aimed to determine whether the cognitive function of participants who studied piano as children would differ from those who did not. Twelve 30-minute sessions were offered to residents of a rural, southern Missouri county using the Yamaha Music in Education (MIE) piano laboratory in a local elementary school. The on-line version of the Cambridge Neurological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB) was used to measure attention, short-term memory and planning. Thirty-six (N = 36) older adults completed the study. Four groups of 8 to 10 participants were randomly assigned. One treatment (Group A) and one control (Group C) received the CANTAB pretest, and posttest, and one treatment (Group B) and one control (Group D) received only the CANTAB posttest. I performed an ANCOVA and discovered no significant difference between CANTAB posttest scores for treatment groups and control groups. Additionally, no significant difference was found between CANTAB scores for those who had piano lessons as a child and those who did not. Evidence from the CANTAB scores support the null hypothesis that there was no evidence of a relationship between twelve 30-minute piano lessons and improved cognitive function in senior adult students. There was also no evidence of a relationship between studying piano before the age of 18 and improved cognitive function as measured by CANTAB.