Long has it been rumored that playing Mozart for your infant will aid in their brain development. Now, the results of a trio of MRI studies claim that musical education–especially when embarked upon at a young age–shapes and strengthens the brain for the better. According to the study, beginning a musical education before the age of 7 fortifies the right superior temporal gyrus and precuneus, regions in the brain associated with executive function, self-awareness, and language and auditory processing. Researchers also noted improvement in the brain’s ability to receive information from several senses at once, and enhanced connectivity between different regions in the brain, particularly parts associated with creativity and spontaneity.
The first study, conducted by Canadian researchers, subjected musicians and non-musicians to one touch sensation delivered simultaneously with two auditory sensations. “Musicians are able to ignore the auditory stimuli and only report what they are feeling,” reported Julie Roy, a researcher from the University of Montreal, adding to evidence that musical training is associated with an improved ability in the brain to process different senses at once.
The second study, authored by Yunxin Wang of Beijing Normal University, China, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, claims that music is effective at strengthening the brains of both older and younger students, but that the most significant examples were noted in children who had begun music lessons prior to the age of 7, owing to the fact that brain maturation typically peaks at 7 years old. Wang cited Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin and Schubert as examples; each of these musical greats began studying music in early childhood.
The third study, performed by Swedish researchers, has found that brain circuitry can be completely and permanently altered by musical training.
For more information on these findings, click here.