Objective: The current research investigated whether professional musicians outperformed non-musicians on auditory processing and speech-in-noise perception as assessed using behavioural and electrophysiological tasks. Design: Spectro-temporal processing skills were assessed using a psychoacoustic test battery. Speech-in-noise perception was measured using the Listening in Spatialised Noise – Sentences (LiSN-S) test and Cortical Auditory Evoked Potentials (CAEPs) recorded to the speech syllable/da/presented in quiet and in 8-talker babble noise at 0, 5, and 10 dB signal-to-noise ratios (SNRs). Study sample: Ten professional musicians and 10 non-musicians participated in this study. Results: Musicians significantly outperformed non-musicians in the frequency discrimination task and low-cue condition of the LiSN-S test. Musicians’ N1 amplitude showed no difference between 5 dB and 0 dB SNR conditions while non-musicians showed significantly lower N1 amplitude at 0 dB SNR compared to 5 dB SNR. Brain-behaviour correlation for musicians showed a significant association between CAEPs at 5 dB SNR and the low-cue condition of the LiSN-S test at 30–70 ms. Time–frequency analysis indicated musicians had significantly higher alpha power desynchronisation in the 0 dB SNR condition indicating involvement of attention. Conclusions: Through the use of behavioural and electrophysiological data, the results provide converging evidence for improved speech recognition in noise in musicians.
- auditory processing
- speech-in-noise perception
- cortical auditory evoked potentials
- event related spectral perturbations