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Scientists advise young children to learn an instrument to improve intelligence

Laura  Barnes
Scientists advise young children to learn an instrument to improve intelligence

A new scientific study has found that listening to and playing music has a significant effect on the brain, and learning an instrument from a young age helps improve IQ and positively affects mental health.

While there have been numerous studies into the benefits of listening to and playing music, researchers at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C. have come up with a way of visualising the effects it has on the brain, reports

By using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Dr. Jonathan Burdette and his team have been able to create images of how the brain reacts when listening to favourite songs, showing increased connections that positively affect one’s default mode network – an area that is responsible for creating empathy, internal though and self-awareness.

“There are probably some features in music that make you feel a certain way, but it’s your experience with it that is even more important,” explained Burdette. “Your associations with certain music involve many different parts of the brain, and they’re very strong.”
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Researchers advise young children to learn to play musical instruments, as several studies show that children who become musicians have higher IQ scores and spatial intelligence.

They have also been found to have more symmetrical brains with a larger corpus callosum – a bundle of nerve fibers that connects the right hemisphere to the left hemisphere of the brain.

The corpus callosum enables each half to communicate with the other, so the larger it is, the faster and more efficient information can be transferred.

The Brain and Creativity Institute at University of Southern California (USC) published a study in 2012, which concluded that learning music at a young age speeds up the maturation rate of the auditory pathway in the brain.

“The auditory system is stimulated by music,” said Assal Habibi, research associate at the University of Southern California Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. “This system is also engaged in general sound processing that is fundamental to language development, reading skills and successful communication.”  

Tags: learning an instrument , benefits of playing an instrument

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