Age-related Changes in Neural Synchronization with Naturalistic Music
Co-Authors:Kristin Weineck; Björn Herrmann; Molly J. Henry
Virtual or In-person:In-person
While a substantial body of prior research has focused on how older adults process and comprehend speech, less attention has been devoted to how older adults encode and perceive naturalistic music. This research gap can be attributed, in part, to the inherent intricacies of the music encountered in everyday life, making it a challenging stimulus to effectively control in laboratory studies. In the current study, we investigated whether neural synchronization to different musical features in naturalistic music differs between younger and older adults. Participants from both age groups were asked to attentively listen to the music stimuli, while electroencephalography(EEG) signals were recorded. Neural synchronization was characterized by the temporal response function (TRF) - a modeling technique that establishes the relationship between the brain response and acoustic features of auditory stimuli. Our results showed that one musical feature - spectral flux drove the strongest neural synchronization in both age groups. Interestingly, older participants exhibited overall larger neural synchronization, yet the sensitivity of the synchronization is notably weaker to tempo changes. Our findings align with previous research on the hyperactivity phenomenon, suggesting that older participants may exhibit enhanced sensitivity to variations in amplitude. Despite this age-related hyperactivity, sensitivity to musical tempo was reduced, suggesting that encoding of music is changed in various ways in older adulthood. These results shed light on the complex interplay between age-related neural responses and musical features, contributing to our understanding of auditory processing in the aging population.