Musical training improves brain function of adults, children
More research has found that children and adults who become trained in music may have better executive brain function than those who never took up an instrument.
In the study, scientists at Boston Children’s Hospital recruited 12 children between ages 9 and 12 who had never learned how to play an instrument, along with 15 same-aged children who had played a musical instrument for at least two years in regular private lessons. They also recruited 15 professional adult musicians and 15 non-musician adults. The researchers then had the participants take a series of cognitive tests and analyzed their brains, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
The results, published in the journal PLOS One, revealed differences in the mechanisms that occurred in the brains of the participants while taking the cognitive tests. Compared to the non-musicians, both the musically trained children and adult musicians showed improvements in executive brain function as well as higher activation in the areas of the prefrontal cortex—the area of the brain responsible for cognitive behavior and decision-making.
The study suggests that music programs in schools may be worth keeping, researchers said. The researchers said their study may also have implications for children and adults who have problems with executive brain function, such as children with ADHD or the elderly.