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Objective: Although numerous studies have shown that musicians have better speech perception in noise (SPIN) compared to nonmusicians, other studies have not replicated the "musician advantage for SPIN." One factor that has not been adequately addressed in previous studies is how musicians' SPIN is affected by routine exposure to high levels of sound. We hypothesized that such exposure diminishes the musician advantage for SPIN.

Design: Environmental sound levels were measured continuously for 1 week via body-worn noise dosimeters in 56 college students with diverse musical backgrounds and clinically normal pure-tone audiometric averages. SPIN was measured using the Quick Speech in Noise Test (QuickSIN). Multiple linear regression modeling was used to examine how music practice (years of playing a musical instrument) and routine noise exposure predict QuickSIN scores.

Results: Noise exposure and music practice were both significant predictors of QuickSIN, but they had opposing influences, with more years of music practice predicting better QuickSIN scores and greater routine noise exposure predicting worse QuickSIN scores. Moreover, mediation analysis suggests that noise exposure suppresses the relationship between music practice and QuickSIN scores.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest a beneficial relationship between music practice and SPIN that is suppressed by noise exposure.

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