Playing music can improve attention and working memory in children – research

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Even if in childhood you hated your music school, but at the same time did not miss lessons, you should know: it was not in vain. Learning to play a musical instrument has a great effect on brain activity related to hearing and attention.

Chilean neuroscientists conducted study, which proved that teaching children to play a musical instrument has a very beneficial effect on attention and working memory. Musically trained children have been found to have greater activation in areas of the brain responsible for controlling attention and coding signals in the auditory sensory system, they have better creativity and they learn to read faster.

During the study, a team of scientists led by neuroscientist and professional violinist Leonie Kausel tested the attention and working memory of 40 children aged 10-13. Twenty young participants in the experiment can play a musical instrument, devoting at least two hours a week to classes with a teacher for two years, and also regularly perform in an orchestra or ensemble. The control group, recruited from the students of the Santiago schools, has no musical training other than music lessons in the school curriculum. Each child was turned on an abstract visual sequence and a short melody, and then asked to focus on one or both stimuli for four seconds. After two seconds, the participants were asked to recall both stimuli at once. At this time, their brain activity was monitored using magnetic resonance imaging.

The results showed that children from the “music” and control groups had the same reaction rate. However, the musically prepared children coped much better with the memorization task. In their work, the authors emphasize that playing music clearly improves cognitive function in children. In the future, scientists intend to identify a cause-and-effect relationship between practicing music and improving brain activity.

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