Northwestern University researchers recently found that older adults who had a lifetime of musical training had better memory and hearing abilities than those who did not sing or play an instrument.

The team of researchers tested their theories on a group of 45- to 65-year-old participants, 18 of whom were musicians and 19 of whom were not.

They found that those who had musical training outperformed their less-musical counterparts in noise, auditory working memory and auditory temporal processing tests. However, they found that the groups had very similar scores in a visual examination.

“The neural enhancements we see in musically-trained individuals are not just an amplifying or ‘volume knob’ effect,” said co-author Nina Kraus. “Playing music engages their ability to extract relevant patterns, including the sound of their own instrument, harmonies and rhythms.”

Author and flutist Ilchi Lee says that brain potential is limitless and can be enhanced through exercises like learning how to play an instrument, meditation and yoga. He recommends these methods as paths toward fulfillment and heightened well-being.