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Poster E113

Age-related Changes in Neural Synchronization with Naturalistic Music

Poster Session E - Monday, April 15, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Yue Ren1 (, Kristin Weineck2,3, Björn Herrmann1,4, Molly J. Henry2,5; 1Baycrest Academy for Research and Education, 2Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, 3Goethe University Frankfurt, 4University of Toronto, 5Toronto Metropolitan University

Hearing abilities tend to decline as people age. 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 this study, we investigated whether neural synchronization to different musical features in naturalistic music differs between younger and older adults. Participants from both age groups (37 younger and 38 older adults) 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 the musical feature 'spectral flux' - a measure of the dynamics of a signal’s power spectrum - 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 changes in musical tempo. 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.

Topic Area: PERCEPTION & ACTION: Development & aging


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