What does research tell us on the impact of music on the brain? Here’s What Researchers Say…
When it comes to brain development, one factor that is believed to bring positive effect is music. In an elementary school, there was an experiment in Science class that showcased plants growing under a stimulus that is classical music. An experiment as simple as the aforementioned birthed other music and brain development research. So what do we know about how music stimulates the brain?
The Department of Neurology at Harvard Medical School conducted research on the “Effects of Music Training on the Child’s Brain and Cognitive Development”. It involved five to seven-year-old children who were undergoing instrumental music training, and the results showed that they have a slightly better performance in terms of cognition and brain development. They have also conducted a cross-sectional comparison wherein they compared their samples to nine to eleven-year-old children who had about four years of instrumental music training. It showed that predicted effects such as improved cognitive skills, of the older children were stronger than their five to seven-year-old counterparts. (Schlaug, Norton, Overy, Winner, 2005).
In studying the connection between music and brain development, the University of Toronto studied the relationship between music lessons and intelligence. IQs of children from the age of nine up to twelve were tested, measured and compared. In this study, executive function was the hypothesized mediator between IQ and musical training, but no significant results were found. Despite this, the musically trained children performed significantly better than those who did not. It is also important to note that children who were trained in music were more likely to be higher performing with regards to intelligence. “In short, cognitive advantages are evident for those who take music lessons in addition to everything else, but not for those who study music instead of something else.” (Schellenberg, 2011)
In another paper on how music affects the brain published in 2006, studies were conducted to find any long-term positive associations between music lessons and IQ. Two sets of samples were used. The first set was composed of six to eleven-year-old boys and girls. The second set was composed of sixteen to twenty-five-year-old boys and girls. For the first set, there was a positive correlation between musical training and academic performance of the students. For the second set, it was interpreted that those undergraduate students who took music lessons in childhood performed slightly better with IQ, Perceptual Organization, Working Memory, and high school average. (Schellenberg, Long-Term Positive Associations Between Music Lessons and IQ, 2006)
These are just some of the numerous studies published that discuss and analyze the relationship of instrumental music training and the brain. Overall, the results tell us that music does indeed stimulate the brain and that there is a positive impact – no matter how small or big it is – in learning a musical instrument. It has also been evident in other studies that playing musical instrument does not just benefit the cognitive ability, but also the physical, social and emotional aspect of an individual. So I ask you, why not start learning an instrument today? Learn more about individual lessons here.