Music helps children improve listening, learning
A little music training in childhood can help improve brain functions in adulthood, especially the complex processing of sound involving listening and learning.
"Based on what we already know about the ways that music helps shape the brain, the study suggests that short-term music lessons may enhance lifelong listening and learning," said Nina Kraus, professor of neurobiology, physiology and communication sciences at Northwestern University, who led the research.
Northwestern researchers have for the first time directly examined what happens after children stop playing a musical instrument after only a few years - a common childhood experience, the Journal of Neuroscience reports.
Adults with one to five years of musical training as children had enhanced brain responses to complex sounds, making them more effective at pulling out the fundamental frequency of the sound signal, according to a Northwestern statement.
The fundamental frequency, which is the lowest frequency in sound, is crucial for speech and music perception, allowing recognition of sounds in complex and noisy auditory environments, according to a Northwestern statement.
"Thus, musical training as children makes better listeners later in life," said Kraus.