Monday, September 17, 2012

MUSIC is good for your BRAIN!

Music 'Tones the Brain,' Improves Learning

By Anne Lyon
-----Summary of an article by Rachael Rettner, LiveScience Staff Writer

Learning to play a musical instrument changes the brain, leading to a slew of potential benefits, including improved learning and understanding of language.
Studies suggest connections made between brain cells during musical training can aid in other forms of communication, such as speech, reading and understanding a foreign language.

"The effect of music training suggests that, akin to physical exercise and its impact on body fitness, music is a resource that tones the brain for auditory fitness," the researchers say.

Musical Brains

A musician's ear must be particularly attuned to musical sounds, timing and quality. Studies have shown such training leads to changes in the brain's auditory system. For instance, pianists show more brain activity in their auditory cortex — the part of the brain responsible for processing sounds — than non-musicians in response to hearing piano notes.

Musicians also have larger brain volumes in areas important for playing a musical instrument, including motor and auditory regions. Music and speech have quite a bit in common. They both use pitch and timing to get information across, and both require memory and attention skills to process.

Studies show children with musical training have more neural activity in response to changes in pitch during speech than those without such training. An enhanced ability to detect changes in pitch might help musicians better judge emotion in speech or distinguish a statement from a question. Musically trained children have better vocabularies and reading abilities than children who don't have this musical education.

The musically trained may also fare better when learning a foreign language. Musicians are better able to put together sound patterns into words for a foreign language.

Distinguishing speech from noise

Musicians can also better understand speech in a noisy environment, studies show, an ability likely due to the fact that they must learn to distinguish specific sounds within melodies.

Musical training might help children with certain learning disorders, such as dyslexia, who are particularly susceptible to the harmful effects of background noise, according to the review article. "Music training seems to strengthen the same neural processes that often are deficient in individuals with developmental dyslexia or who have difficulty hearing speech in noise," the researchers say.

Music is very important in our lives. It is frequently underestimated and thought of as "easy" or "play time," but it's not that at all. Students frequently appear to be having fun while they are making music because music IS fun (though not easy). Music can portray any mood, and it takes a special, interested person in order to make it good. Music is very important to education.