USF researches to find out if piano lessons preserve brain power - WFLA News Channel 8

USF researches to find out if piano lessons preserve brain power

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Rodger Menke Rodger Menke
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

Could piano lessons help stop the aging process? Researchers at the University of South Florida say learning to play the piano could be a key component to preserving brain power as we age.

"We are examining stress levels and cognitive performance," said Dr. Jennifer Bugos of USF's Music Education department. 

Bugos is working alongside USF's School of Communication Sciences to see how cortisol levels, brain activity, memory and musical aptitude can change after intense training.

Related story: 05/28/2013 USF offers free piano lessons as part of research

Researches grouped participants by age looking at young and old alike.

"I'm 80 years old and I said to myself, I better jump on this," said Rodger Menke who's participating in the study. 

Menke was excited about two weeks of free piano training and being part of a significant research study on aging. Participants had to have little to no previous piano training to be part of the study and be willing to take over three hours of piano lessons daily. Most participants quickly learned to play with both hands.

"What's exciting is ... bimanual coordination it has progressive difficulty which is important in cognitive training, and of course the novelty of it," Dr. Bugos said.  

She also pointed out that the participants learned to play in a group setting which is also an important aspect when it comes to socializing and the elderly.

While the results of this study have not been released, Bugos published a similar study in the "Aging and Public Health", which tracked participants over a six month period that took lessons only once a week. The findings showed piano training could play a key role in aging intervention.

For more information about future studies you can contact Dr. Bugos directly at bugosj@usf.edu.

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