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      Effects of a School-Based Instrumental Music Program on Verbal and Visual Memory in Primary School Children: A Longitudinal Study

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          Abstract

          This study examined the effects of a school-based instrumental training program on the development of verbal and visual memory skills in primary school children. Participants either took part in a music program with weekly 45 min sessions of instrumental lessons in small groups at school, or they received extended natural science training. A third group of children did not receive additional training. Each child completed verbal and visual memory tests three times over a period of 18 months. Significant Group by Time interactions were found in the measures of verbal memory. Children in the music group showed greater improvements than children in the control groups after controlling for children’s socio-economic background, age, and IQ. No differences between groups were found in the visual memory tests. These findings are consistent with and extend previous research by suggesting that children receiving music training may benefit from improvements in their verbal memory skills.

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          Most cited references 45

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          Music training for the development of auditory skills.

          The effects of music training in relation to brain plasticity have caused excitement, evident from the popularity of books on this topic among scientists and the general public. Neuroscience research has shown that music training leads to changes throughout the auditory system that prime musicians for listening challenges beyond music processing. This 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. Therefore, the role of music in shaping individual development deserves consideration.
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            Brain structures differ between musicians and non-musicians.

            From an early age, musicians learn complex motor and auditory skills (e.g., the translation of visually perceived musical symbols into motor commands with simultaneous auditory monitoring of output), which they practice extensively from childhood throughout their entire careers. Using a voxel-by-voxel morphometric technique, we found gray matter volume differences in motor, auditory, and visual-spatial brain regions when comparing professional musicians (keyboard players) with a matched group of amateur musicians and non-musicians. Although some of these multiregional differences could be attributable to innate predisposition, we believe they may represent structural adaptations in response to long-term skill acquisition and the repetitive rehearsal of those skills. This hypothesis is supported by the strong association we found between structural differences, musician status, and practice intensity, as well as the wealth of supporting animal data showing structural changes in response to long-term motor training. However, only future experiments can determine the relative contribution of predisposition and practice.
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              Musical training influences linguistic abilities in 8-year-old children: more evidence for brain plasticity.

              We conducted a longitudinal study with 32 nonmusician children over 9 months to determine 1) whether functional differences between musician and nonmusician children reflect specific predispositions for music or result from musical training and 2) whether musical training improves nonmusical brain functions such as reading and linguistic pitch processing. Event-related brain potentials were recorded while 8-year-old children performed tasks designed to test the hypothesis that musical training improves pitch processing not only in music but also in speech. Following the first testing sessions nonmusician children were pseudorandomly assigned to music or to painting training for 6 months and were tested again after training using the same tests. After musical (but not painting) training, children showed enhanced reading and pitch discrimination abilities in speech. Remarkably, 6 months of musical training thus suffices to significantly improve behavior and to influence the development of neural processes as reflected in specific pattern of brain waves. These results reveal positive transfer from music to speech and highlight the influence of musical training. Finally, they demonstrate brain plasticity in showing that relatively short periods of training have strong consequences on the functional organization of the children's brain.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Front Psychol
                Front Psychol
                Front. Psychology
                Frontiers in Psychology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                1664-1078
                21 December 2012
                2012
                : 3
                Affiliations
                1Department of Music, Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg, Germany
                2Department of Psychology, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, Germany
                Author notes

                Edited by: Claude Alain, Rotman Research Institute, Canada

                Reviewed by: Theodor Rueber, Bonn University Hospital, Germany; Shinya Fujii, Harvard Medical School, USA

                *Correspondence: Ingo Roden, Department of Music, Carl von Ossietzky University, Ammerländer Heerstraße 114-118, 26111 Oldenburg, Germany. e-mail: ingo.roden@ 123456t-online.de

                This article was submitted to Frontiers in Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience, a specialty of Frontiers in Psychology.

                Article
                10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00572
                3528082
                23267341
                Copyright © 2012 Roden, Kreutz and Bongard.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 2, Equations: 0, References: 56, Pages: 9, Words: 8775
                Categories
                Psychology
                Original Research

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