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Benefit Three: Success in Developing Intelligence

Adults who receive formal music instruction as children have more robust brainstem responses to sound than peers who never participate in music lessons and that the magnitude of the response correlates with how recently training ceased. These results suggest that neural changes accompanying musical training during childhood are retained in adulthood.— 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) 11510. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1949-12.2012 

Dr. Kraus’ research has demonstrated that musicians tend to have superior fine-motor skills, increased language skills such as vocabulary, literacy, sound processing and retention (memory), and reasoning. These benefits appear to persist well into adulthood, in some cases long after the actual training or musicianship has ended.– Kraus, Dr. Nina. “Facing the Music: Musicianship’s effect on the brain.” Canadian Hearing Report, Official Publication of the Canadian Academy of Audiology, Vol. 8 No.2 (2013).

Musicians are found to have superior working memory compared to non-musicians. Musicians are better able to sustain mental control during memory and recall tasks, most likely as a result of their long- term musical training (Berti et al., 2006; Pallesen et al., 2010).

Agnes S. Chan, Yim-Chi Ho & Mei-Chun Cheung, 1998, found that adults who began their music training prior to the age of 12 demonstrated enhanced memory for spoken words relative to matched adults who did not, and thus suggested that early music training may have long-term facilitatory effects on verbal memory.

Musically trained children perform better in a memory test that is correlated with general intelligence skills such as literacy, verbal memory, visiospatial processing mathematics and IQ. Dr. Laurel Trainor, Prof. of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Behavior at McMaster University, 2006.

A 2004 Stanford University study showed that mastering a musical instrument improves the way the human brain processes parts of the spoken language. Using functional MRI, they discovered that the musically trained brain works more efficiently in distinguishing split second differences that are essential for processing language. Prof. John Gabrieli, associate director of MIT’s Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging.

“There’s some good neuroscience research that children involved in music have larger growth of neural activity than people not in music training. When you’re a musician and you’re playing an instrument, you have to be using more of your brain,” says Dr. Eric Rasmussen, chair of the Early Childhood Music Department at the Peabody Preparatory of The Johns Hopkins University

A research team exploring the link between music and intelligence reported that music training is far superior to computer instruction in dramatically enhancing children's abstract reasoning skills, the skills necessary for learning math and science. Shaw, Rauscher, Levine, Wright, Dennis and Newcomb, "Music training causes long-term enhancement of preschool children's spatial-temporal reasoning," Neurological Research, Vol. 19, February 1997