Participants Required for Study on the Effects of Music on the Ageing Brain

Jenny Groarke, a musician and PhD student at the School of Psychology in NUI Galway
Jun 15 2015 Posted: 14:43 IST

A research project into ageing at NUI Galway is looking for additional participants to take part in the study. The study is part of a larger ongoing project in NUI Galway, which commenced in 2013, exploring the functions and effects of music listening with younger and older adults.

The project is seeking participants aged 60-85 years to join an experimental study on the effects of listening to music. Volunteers will spend 2-3 hours in the lab carrying out a variety of verbal and numerical tasks while listening to music and having their brain waves measured by electroencephalography (EEG). Prior to the lab session volunteers will also complete a questionnaire measuring their typical uses of music, personality and wellbeing.

Jenny Groarke, a musician and PhD student at the School of Psychology in NUI Galway, said: “We will examine whether listening to music improves psychological functioning across a range of domains, which we hope can be used to benefit older adults in the future.”

“Findings emerging from these ongoing studies are suggesting that one of the primary reasons people listen to music is to regulate emotions. There is evidence that older adults are more skilled at emotion regulation, and that positive and negative emotions can have a range of effects on physical health, emotional well-being, and cognitive functioning. Our research is highlighting that individuals also use music to optimise their abilities - such as boosting performance at work, and during sport or exercise. An important aim of the experiment is to determine if listeners beliefs about music’s positive effects can be confirmed in the lab,” Jenny continued.

Through her research, Jenny has already discovered some differences in music listening between younger and older adults. These are outlined in an upcoming paper to be published in the Psychology of Music journal. Interestingly, older adults typically used music to experience a sense of connection with significant others and to lessen feelings of social isolation, whereas younger adults focused on the use of music for bonding in social settings, and adapting to crowded public places.

The Galway native was inspired to study the link between music and well-being in older adults by her late grandfather Jimmy Dooley, who sang in the Augustinian choir for more than 65 years and played the drums in the Galway Bay Jazz band in Busker Brownes every Sunday. She has also set up a business, Sing-Bang Music Workshops, which brings music workshops to nursing homes to improve memory ability, happiness, and quality of life in elderly adults through group music making.

Those interested in participating will need to complete the questionnaire of adaptive music listening functions, and sign up for the experiment here at Alternatively a paper version of the questionnaire can be requested from or phone 086 0333 033.

For more information on volunteering for the research visit


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