Musicianship confers enhancements to hearing at nearly all levels of the auditory system from periphery to percept. Musicians' superior psychophysical abilities are particularly evident in spectral discrimination and noise-degraded listening tasks, achieving higher perceptual sensitivity than their nonmusician peers. Greater spectral acuity implies that musicianship may increase auditory filter selectivity. This hypothesis was directly tested by measuring both forward- and simultaneous-masked psychophysical tuning curves. Sharper filter tuning (i.e., higher Q10) was observed in musicians compared to nonmusicians. Findings suggest musicians' pervasive listening benefits may be facilitated, in part, by superior spectral processing/decomposition as early as the auditory periphery.
Gavin Bidelman, Jonathan Schug, Skyler Jennings, and Shaum Bhagat. "Psychophysical auditory filter estimates reveal sharper cochlear tuning in musicians" Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (2014): 33-39. doi:10.1121/1.4885484