Parents who spend time and money to teach their
children music, take heart -- a new Canadian study
shows young children who take music lessons have
better memories than their nonmusical peers.
The study, to be published in the online edition
of the journal Brain on Wednesday, showed that
after one year of musical training, children performed
better in a memory test than those who did not
take music classes.
"(The research) tells us that if you take music
lessons your brain is getting wired up differently
than if you don't take music lessons," Laurel
Trainor, professor of psychology, neuroscience
and behavior at McMaster University in Hamilton,
"This is the first study to show that brain responses
in young, musically trained and untrained children
change differently over the course of a year,"
said Trainor who led the study.
Over a year they took four measurements in two
groups of children aged between four and six --
those taking music lessons and those taking no
musical training outside school -- and found developmental
changes over periods as short as four months.
The children completed a music test in which
they were asked to discriminate between harmonies,
rhythms and melodies, and a memory test in which
they had to listen to a series of numbers, remember
them and repeat them back.
Trainor said while previous studies have shown
that older children given music lessons had greater
improvements in IQ scores than children given
drama lessons, this is the first study to identify
these effects in brain-based measurements in young
She said it was not that surprising that children
studying music improved in musical listening skills
more than children not studying music.
"On the other hand, it is very interesting that
the children- taking music lessons improved more
over the year on general memory skills that are
correlated with nonmusicalabilities such as literacy,
verbal memory, visiospatial processing, mathematics
and IQ," she said.