A study in the Journal of Neuroscience. [Travis White-Schwoch et al., Older Adults Benefit from Music Training Early in Life: Biological Evidence for Long-Term Training-Driven Plasticity] has shown that music training as a child may be beneficial as we age even if you haven’t played for decades.

Our response to fast-changing sounds slows down as we age which affects how we understand speech. People who played instruments when they were young respond a bit quicker to such complex sounds. And the more years study subjects played instruments, the faster their brains responded to speech sound. The researchers say that early acoustic experience may train the central auditory system and these changes are retained throughout life.

Previous studies of musicians have revealed that years of musical training may offset cognitive decline. This latest analysis shows that even if all you did was reluctantly practice piano 40 years ago, you may still be reaping neurocognitive benefits.