Early music lessons boost kids’ brainpower

Tired of using methods to improve your kid’s overall performance? Try music.

Researchers have found that musical training early in life can set up children for a better academic future.

Children who undertook early musical training were better at quickly processing and retaining information and problem solving, the findings showed.

“While many schools are cutting music programmes and spending more and more time on test preparation, our findings suggest that musical training may actually help to set up children for a better academic future,” said Nadine Gaab from Boston Children’s Hospital in the US.

For the study, researchers compared 15 musically-trained children between ages nine to 12, with a control group of 12 untrained children of the same age.

Musically trained children had to have played an instrument for at least two years in regular private music lessons.

The researchers similarly compared 15 adults who were active professional musicians with 15 non-musicians.

On cognitive testing, adult musicians and musically-trained children showed enhanced performance on several aspects of executive functioning.

On functional MRI imaging (fMRI), the children with musical training showed enhanced activation of specific areas of the prefrontal cortex during a test that made them switch between mental tasks.

These areas, the supplementary motor area, the pre-supplementary area and the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, are known to be linked to executive function, Daily Mail reported.

“Since executive functioning is a strong predictor of academic achievement, even more than IQ, we think our findings have strong educational implications,” Gaab added.

The study appeared in the journal PLOS ONE.

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