Musical training can improve problem-solving skills, research finds

Frankie ChoMusic of the world

Researches shows musical training since childhood can lead to better problem-solving skills

New research has shone light on the positive effects that musical instruction has on the human brain.

The study, by Skoe & Kraus (2012), published in the Journal of Neuroscience, evaluated neural functions in 45 adults who started and stopped musical training in different stages of their life.

The participants were divided into three groups: 0, 1-5 and 6-11 years of music instruction.  The study showed that when music was played to the subjects, brainstem responses to sound were greater in groups that had received some degree of musical training compared to those who had received none.

This study also suggests that musical training does not have to be long to be beneficial: a musical education of merely three years during childhood can stimulate brainstem activity. Another article published in Child Development further confirms this conclusion. The study, involving 36 children in the ages of 4-6, found that the plasticity of the brain is maintained throughout the year after the musical training. This shows that music is conducive to brainstem activity and development.

So, how does increased brainstem activity benefit the student? According to Anita Collins on TED-Ed, when students receive structured musical training, neural signals in their brain travel faster and follow more diverse routes. This means that the student develops improved problem-solving skills in both academic and social settings. Check out the TED-Ed video here:

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Reference(s):

Collins, A., (2014). How playing an instrument benefits your brain. TED-Ed Original Lessons. Retrieved on 26 April 2016 on TED-Ed.

Moreno, S., Lee, Y., Janus, M. and Bialystok, E. (2015). Short-Term Second Language and Music Training Induces Lasting Functional Brain Changes in Early Childhood. Child Development, 86: 394–406. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12297

Skoe, E., Kraus, N., (2012). A Little Goes a Long Way: How the Adult Brain is Shaped by Musical Training in Childhood. The Journal of Neuroscience. Retrieved on 26 April 2016 on:
The Journal of Neuroscience
Wiley Online Library