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May 2, 2011

Does Learning to Play a Musical Instrument Make Kids Smarter?

New research shows there could be a link between kids studying music and later intelligence

In a study published by the American Psychological Association there is evidence showing that taking music lessons or learning an instrument while a kid can pay off later in life. It appears that, even in people who stop playing later, some music study at a young age can help one to stay smarter longer.

The study was performed by Brenda Hanna-Pladdy, PhD and Neuropsychologist, and Alicia MacKay, PhD and cognitive psychologist. It's the first time that the lifelong benefits of studying music has been researched. They studied adults between the ages of 60 and 83, dividing them up into three groups depending on how much musical training they had. The first group had no musical experience, the 2nd had 1 to 9 years of training, and the last had over 10 years of musical study.

It turned out that the more musical training a person had the higher they scored on the tests! The group with the most musical training performed the best, followed by the middle group, while the group with no musical training did the worst.

The brain tests were focused on specific functions of the brain that tend to get worse as we get older. There were tests on visual-spatial memory, flexibility of thinking, naming objects, and the ability to adapt to new information.

The tests also found that, of the experienced musicians, it didn't matter whether they still played an instrument or not. As long as they had studied earlier in life, even years earlier, they did well on the tests.

The researchers say that the study was correlational. This means that they need more study to be sure of the results. The findings of the study were published online in the APA journal Neuropsychology.

So next time your parents bug you to go practice the piano, or whatever musical instrument you play, don't complain. Remember it could make you smarter. And, if you don't play a musical instrument, you might want to start right away! Back to Kids News

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