Study Finds Children Who Play Musical Instruments Have Better Memory And …

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8 October 2020, 12:06 | Updated: October 9, 2020, 9:50 a.m.

Children who play an instrument have better memory and attention, according to a study.

Image: Getty


A study shows that young musicians who play an instrument, practice frequently and perform regularly in an orchestra have increased memory and attention capacities.

Learning to play an instrument can be good for your child’s brain and may lead to greater creativity and a better quality of life.

The findings come from a recent to study, which showed how children trained in music performed better in attention and memory recall exercises. They also exhibited greater activation in areas of the brain related to attention control and auditory encoding.

To conduct the study, 40 Chilean children aged 10 to 13 were tested on their attention and working memory.

Half of the children played a musical instrument, had taken at least two years of schooling, practiced at least two hours a week, and played regularly in an orchestra or ensemble.

Read more: 10 tips to help you practice more effectively>

The study involved children aged 11 to 13

The study involved children aged 11 to 13.

Image: Getty


The other 20 children, recruited from public schools in Santiago, the Chilean capital, had no musical training other than that provided for in the school curriculum.

A series of audiovisual and memory tests were performed on each participant while their brain activity was recorded using magnetic resonance imaging, which detects small changes in blood flow in the brain.

The researchers found that there was no difference between the two groups in terms of reaction times, but the music-trained participants did “considerably” better on the memory task.

Read more: Nicola Benedetti: “Teaching music is vital for the education of a child”>

Neuroscientist and violinist Dr Leonie Kausel, who worked on the study, Explain: “Our most important finding is that two different mechanisms seem to underlie the better performance of children musically trained in the attention and memory task WM.

“One that supports more domain-specific general attention mechanisms and another that supports more domain-specific auditory coding mechanisms. “

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To break Kausel’s words down into simpler terms, “domain” refers to how types of senses such as heat, sound, or light are encoded by the brain.

The use of “mechanism” refers to the neurochemical processes that occur.

In children trained in music, domain-specific mechanisms (when only one sense is processed) and general domain mechanisms (when several are processed) appeared to have improved function.

The research team concluded that early musical training increases the functional activity of these brain networks.

Read more: Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason: “Classical music is not racist. It is about access to music education ‘>

When asked if she thinks kids should sign up for music lessons, Kausel replied, “Of course I would recommend it.

“However, I think parents should not only enroll their children because they expect it to help them boost their cognitive functions, but because it is also an activity that, however demanding, will provide them with joy and the possibility of learning a Universal Language. “

Research conducted at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and the Universidad del Desarrollo Chile has been published in the journal Frontiers in neuroscience. Learn more about the study here.


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