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Study: Music Training Can Enhance Verbal Intelligence and Executive Function

Very inter­est­ing new study pub­lished in Psy­cho­log­i­cal Sci­ence: Short-Term Music Train­ing Enhances Ver­bal Intel­li­gence and Exec­u­tive Func­tion.

Abstract: Researchers have designed train­ing meth­ods that can be used to improve men­tal health and to test the effi­cacy of edu­ca­tion pro­grams. How­ever, few stud­ies have demon­strated broad trans­fer from such train­ing to per­for­mance on untrained cog­ni­tive activ­i­ties. Here we report the effects of two inter­ac­tive com­put­er­ized train­ing pro­grams devel­oped for preschool chil­dren: one for music and one for visual art. After only 20 days of train­ing, only chil­dren in the music group exhib­ited enhanced per­for­mance on a mea­sure of ver­bal intel­li­gence, with 90% of the sam­ple show­ing this improve­ment. These improve­ments in ver­bal intel­li­gence were pos­i­tively cor­re­lated with changes in func­tional brain plas­tic­ity dur­ing an executive-function task. Our find­ings demon­strate that trans­fer of a high-level cog­ni­tive skill is pos­si­ble in early childhood.

–> To access orig­i­nal study, click Here (requires sub­scrip­tion).

Good com­men­tary on the study: Music Train­ing Enhances Children’s Ver­bal Intel­li­gence (Miller McCune).

  • These results are dra­matic not only because they clearly con­nect cog­ni­tive improve­ment to musi­cal train­ing, but also because the improve­ments in lan­guage and atten­tion are found in com­pletely dif­fer­ent domains than the one used for train­ing,” said York Uni­ver­sity psy­chol­o­gist Ellen Bia­lystok, one of the paper’s co-authors. “This has enor­mous impli­ca­tions for devel­op­ment and education.”
  • The study, pub­lished in the jour­nal Psy­cho­log­i­cal Sci­ence, was con­ducted at York Uni­ver­sity by psy­chol­o­gist Syl­vain Moreno, who is now with Baycrest’s Rot­man Research Insti­tute. It focused on 48 chil­dren between the ages of 4 and 6, who took part in one of two com­put­er­ized train­ing pro­grams Moreno designed.”

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