Study finds age doesn't affect perception of 'speech-to-song
A strange thing sometimes happens when we listen to a spoken phrase again and again: It begins to sound like a song. This phenomenon, called the "speech-to-song illusion," can offer a window into how the mind operates and give insight into conditions that affect people's ability to communicate, like aphasia and aging people's decreased ability to recall words.

Now, researchers have published a study in PLOS ONE examining if the speech-to-song illusion happens in adults who are 55 or older as powerfully as it does with younger people.

The team recruited 199 participants. The subjects listened to a sound file that exemplified the speech-to-song illusion, then completed surveys relating to three different studies.

"In the first study, we just played them the canonical stimulus made by the researcher that discovered this illusion—if that can't create the illusion, then nothing can. There was no difference in the age of the number of people that said yes or no."

In the second study, investigators sought to discover if older people experienced it less powerfully. But there was no difference.

In the third study, they wanted to see if older adults perhaps experience the illusion more slowly than younger people. They asked people to click a button on the screen when their perception shifted from speech to song. They got the same number for both younger adults and older ones.

Not everybody experiences the speech-to-song illusion. The study found about 73% of participants heard spoken words become song-like after several repetitions. But the ability to perceive it didn't correlate to age or musical training.