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Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Music Training May Lead to Faster Speech Processing, Study Says

Liana Heitin writes, "Elementary students who participated in a music enrichment program for two years showed improvement in their ability to process speech sounds, according to a new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience."

Making sure young brains get the benefits of music training

The study adds to the body of research suggesting that playing music helps students' cognitive development.

Forty-four students, ages 6 to 9, who attended music training through the Harmony Project, a nonprofit music education program serving low-income students in Los Angeles, participated in the study. At the beginning of the after-school program, students received two hours per week of instruction on pitch, rhythm, notation, and other fundamental music skills. Several months into the program, or more, depending on the availability of instruments, students began receiving at least four hours per week of instruction and learned to play music.

Photo: Nina Kraus
The researchers, led by Nina Kraus, a principal investigator at the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University, used a neural probe to test the speed of students' auditory processing when hearing two consonant-vowel pairs: \ba\ and \ga\. "What we want to know is, how does the brain automatically respond to speech sounds?" Kraus said in an interview. "We're able to capture neural timing on the order of microseconds. It's very precise."  Students were tested before the program began, and at the end of one and two years.

Another recent study of primary students in Germany found that faster auditory processing was associated with better spelling and reading skills, my colleague Sarah Sparks wrote in December
Read more... 

Related link
Nina Kraus (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Source: Education Week and PBS NewsHou's Channel (YouTube).

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