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Research Finds Music Lessons Enhance Brain in Disadvantaged Kids

Research Finds Music Lessons Enhance Brain in Disadvantaged Kids

New research finds that there may be a way to strengthen the brains of underserved children through a challenging, but often fun, activity: music lessons. 

Poverty, and the chronic stress it can cause, hinders the brain development, said an article in Pacific Standard magazine. A newly published study of kids from ages 6 to 9 living in impoverished areas in Los Angeles, however, finds those who spent two years in a free music-instruction program processed the sound of certain syllables faster than their peers with less musical training. 

Nina Kraus, lead author of the study out of Northwestern University, followed 44 children for three years. All of the subjects were students in the Los Angeles public school system, and all lived in designated gang-reduction zones. The program was conducted by Harmony Project, a music education nonprofit organization. where students participated in six months of introductory music classes, and then moved to group instrumental instruction. 

At the end of each school year, all participants took part in neurphysiological testing, where researchers determined "how quickly each part of their brians processed the distinction between the sounds 'ba' and 'ga'."

Kraus reported in the article:

Children with two years of training showed a marked improvement in the neural differentiation of the syllables. Across both groups, more music training was associated with larger enhancements in neural function. This suggests that music training transferred to non-music listening settings to influence automatic auditory processing. These improvements were in processes that are important for everyday communication.

Read the full story. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, EducationWorld Contributor

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