Several studies have found positive effects of making music. Now, a new research study has looked at the long-term effects of playing an instrument either in high school or beyond, and found that even people who started making music as adults did better at memory recall tasks in their sixties and early seventies.
In 1957, more than ten thousand high school graduates in the state of Wisconsin filled out a survey. It asked them about their future plans, family situation and career goals. This was the first of the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study questionnaires, given to the same cohort of 1957 high school graduates in 1964, 1975, 1993, 2004 and in 2011. Combined with other information about the students’ IQ, school details, family income, and other life details, this study provided a rich set of data.
Researchers who want to study how different factors might affect people’s lives in the long term can request or access the data for analysis, and recently public health researchers at Stony Brook University used it to find out whether playing a musical instrument had any effect on memory in later life.