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Musical Resources
  • Music Education and Brain Development
  • Mary Brainerd
  • Music Soul/HealthOf Interest to New Musical Families
Music Education and Brain Development

 

Over the past two decades, music training has been associated with better than average language and mathematical skills and higher IQ, while differences between musicians and nonmusicians have been found in brain areas related to hearing and movement, among others. What is the mechanism behind such differences? One important goal of our program is to understand the effects of music training on brain development, investigated in terms of psychological (emotional, cognitive, social) and actual neural functions.

The only way to correctly assess the effects of music training on child development is to study children before they start any music training and to follow them systematically thereafter, to establish how their brain and behavior change in relation to their training. Beginning in 2012, in collaboration with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and their youth orchestra program (YOLA) and Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA), we have been investigating the effects of group-based music training in 80 children between the ages of six and seven. We have continued to follow them, to document the effects of such training on their development, using neural, emotional, cognitive, and social development measures.

The study is currently in its fourth year and has so far provided support for the positive impact of music training on development of auditory processes as evidenced by greater ability for pitch perception and production and enhanced maturation of the auditory pathway as shown by more developed sensory auditory evoked potentials. In addition, the findings have provided support for a positive association between music training and improvements in cognitive skills including working memory and inhibitory function and as evidence by greater brain activation in brain’s prefrontal circuitry during tasks engaging executive function skills.

We hope that the findings from this study will not only lead to a better understanding of the benefits of musical training in general but provide further insights into the social and psychological merits of childhood music education.

The BCI Brain and Music Program is supported not only by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, but by a generous grant from GRoW@Annenberg.

The only way to correctly assess the effects of music training on child development is to study children before they start any music training and to follow them systematically thereafter, to establish how their brain and behavior change in relation to their training. Beginning in 2012, in collaboration with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and their youth orchestra program (YOLA) and Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA), we have been investigating the effects of group-based music training in 80 children between the ages of six and seven. We have continued to follow them, to document the effects of such training on their development, using neural, emotional, cognitive, and social development measures.

The study is currently in its fourth year and has so far provided support for the positive impact of music training on development of auditory processes as evidenced by greater ability for pitch perception and production and enhanced maturation of the auditory pathway as shown by more developed sensory auditory evoked potentials. In addition, the findings have provided support for a positive association between music training and improvements in cognitive skills including working memory and inhibitory function and as evidence by greater brain activation in brain’s prefrontal circuitry during tasks engaging executive function skills.

  • Mary Brainerd
  • Music Soul/HealthOf Interest to New Musical Families

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