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.
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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.”