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, published in the online edition of the journal Brain, 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, Ontario, said.
"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 .
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
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 children.
She said it was not that surprising that children studying music
improved in musical listening skills more than children not studying
"On the other hand, it is very interesting that the children taking
music lessons improved more on general memory skills that are correlated
with nonmusical abilities such as literacy, verbal memory, visiospatial
processing, mathematics and IQ," she said.