Monday, November 11, 2013

Music Benefitting the Brain

A research team at Northwestern University has done an interesting study ( about the effects of music lessons into the brain. The team studied a group of seniors who all had taken music lessons up to fourteen years in their youth. Then they compared their brain activity to people of same age with no experience in music lessons.

The specific brain function the team examined was recognizing fast changing sounds. More specifically, how quickly the brain can process the transition from consonant to vowel, which is crucial in understanding the meaning of a word. Nina Kraus, the team leader explains: “Early music training sets the stage for subsequent interactions with sound”. Musical training in the early years develops the brain to process word fragments more efficiently. A decline in that ability results in difficulty of understanding speech, especially when other sounds are present simultaneously.

It is known before that this neural skill is present in older adults with lifelong music education. However, the participants of this particular experiment did not continue musical training into their adulthood. Nevertheless, the positive consequences were seen already after four years of training. Not to forget that for most, it had been forty years since taking the lessons. This is a great example of the potential of music in activating and developing the human brain. Hopefully this information will encourage parents of young children to invest in music lessons, and educators to incorporate musical training in school programs. I sure am grateful to be a part of this better brained group when I am older.

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