Musical Training in Childhood has Long-Term Brain Benefits
|September 17, 2012||Posted by M. P. under Education, Research||
I came across a story heralding the new research linking early music training and improved learning capability just as the unique serenade that can only be described, either factually or fairly, as “trumpet practice – week two” began to reverberate off the walls of the home office. Off the walls of the entire home, actually.
The pluses associated with early musical exposure are standard fare in parenting magazines, and there is evidence that long-term musical instruction has neurological benefits for those who pursue it into adulthood. Yet, there has been little empirical support for the premise that run-of-the-mill childhood musical instruction has a significant positive impact on brain response and function.
According to a study published last month in the Journal of Neuroscience (available via a link from the Northwestern University School of Communication), researchers Erika Skoe and Nina Kraus found that participants with one-to-five years of childhood musical training had more robust neural responses when processing sound cues than those who had no such training. The results from participants who had engaged in six-to-ten years of musical training as youth were even more impressive.
The study demonstrates that even a few years of music lessons can have a fundamental impact on brain functioning nearly a decade later. How much longer the benefits are retained after that point, and if or when they begin to diminish, has not yet been examined.
Play on, son. I eagerly await Land of A Thousand Dances.
Citation: Skoe E, Kraus N. (2012) A little goes a long way: how the adult brain is shaped by musical training in childhood. Journal of Neuroscience. 32(34):11507–11510.