Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Another reason to love music


Neuroscience of Music – How Music Enhances Learning Through Neuroplasticity

Neuroscience research into the neuroscience of music shows that musicians’ brains may be primed to distinguish meaningful sensory information from noise. This ability seems to enhance other cognitive abilities such as learning, language, memory and neuroplasticity of various brain areas.
The research strongly suggests that the neural connections made during musical training also prime the brain for other aspects of human communication.
An active engagement with musical sounds not only enhances neuroplasticity, she said, but also enables the nervous system to provide the stable scaffolding of meaningful patterns so important to learning.
“The brain is unable to process all of the available sensory information from second to second, and thus must selectively enhance what is relevant,” Kraus said. 
The Nature article reviews literature showing, for example, that musicians are more successful than non-musicians in learning to incorporate sound patterns for a new language into words. Children who are musically trained show stronger neural activation to pitch changes in speech and have a better vocabulary and reading ability than children who did not receive music training.
And musicians trained to hear sounds embedded in a rich network of melodies and harmonies are primed to understand speech in a noisy background. They exhibit both enhanced cognitive and sensory abilities that give them a distinct advantage for processing speech in challenging listening environments compared with non-musicians.
“The effect of music training suggests that, akin to physical exercise and its impact on body fitness, music is a resource that tones the brain for auditory fitness and thus requires society to re-examine the role of music in shaping individual development, ” the researchers conclude.
“Music training for the development of auditory skills,” by Nina Kraus and Bharath Chandrasekaran, will be published July 20 in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience.
Kraus, N., Chandrasekaran, B. (August 2010). Music training for the development of auditory skills. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 11, 599-605.

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