Researchers: Taking Music Lessons As a Child Could Improve Your Brainpower for Life

Are you ready for yet another new study that proves musicians are special?

Researchers have revealed that taking music lessons as a child could improve your brainpower — for life.

According to the study, the results of which were reported by the Daily Mail, researchers found that children who experienced early musical training were better at quickly processing and retaining information and problem solving.

The study, which was conducted using functional MRI brain imaging, was conducted by researchers at Boston Children's Hospital.

"Since executive functioning is a strong predictor of academic achievement, even more than IQ, we think our findings have strong educational implications," said researcher Nadine Gaab. "While many schools are cutting music programs and spending more and more time on test preparation, our findings suggest musical training may actually help to set up children for a better academic future."

According to the Mail story:

Executive functions include the high-level cognitive processes that enable people to quickly process and retain information, regulate their behaviors, make good choices, solve problems, plan and adjust to changing mental demands.

Gaab and the other researchers compared 15 musically trained children, ages 9 to 12, with a control group of 12 untrained children of the same age. The musically trained kids had to have played an instrument for at least two years in regular private music lessons. (Actually, on average, the children had played for five-plus years and practiced almost four hours a week, starting at age 5.9.)

The researchers similarly compared 15 adults who were active professional musicians with 15 non-musicians. Both control groups had no musical training beyond general school requirements.

The researchers matched the musician/non-musician groups for parental education, job status (parental or their own) and family income. The groups, also matched for IQ, underwent a battery of cognitive tests, and the children had functional MRI imaging (fMRI) of their brains during testing.

On cognitive testing, adult musicians and musically trained children showed enhanced performance on several aspects of executive functioning. On fMRI, the children with musical training showed enhanced activation of specific areas of the prefrontal cortex during a test that made them switch between mental tasks.

"Our results may also have implications for children and adults who are struggling with executive functioning, such as children with ADHD or [the] elderly," Gaab said. "Future studies have to determine whether music may be utilized as a therapeutic intervention tools for these children and adults."

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