Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Music Instruction Aids Verbal Memory

Date:
July 29, 2003
Source:
American Psychological Association
Summary:
According to a new study, children with music training had significantly better verbal memory than their counterparts without such training. Plus, the longer the training, the better the verbal memory. These findings underscore how, when experience changes a specific brain region, other skills that region supports may also benefit –- a kind of cognitive side effect that could help people recovering from brain injury as well as healthy children.

Washington -- Those dreaded piano lessons pay off in unexpected ways: According to a new study, children with music training had significantly better verbal memory than their counterparts without such training. Plus, the longer the training, the better the verbal memory. These findings underscore how, when experience changes a specific brain region, other skills that region supports may also benefit –- a kind of cognitive side effect that could help people recovering from brain injury as well as healthy children. The research appears in the July issue of Neuropsychology, which is published by the American Psychological Association. Psychologists at the Chinese University of Hong Kong studied 90 boys between age six and 15. Half had musical training as members of their school's string orchestra program, plus lessons in playing classical music on Western instruments, for one to five years. The other 45 participants were schoolmates with no musical training. The researchers, led by Agnes S. Chan, Ph.D., gave the children verbal memory tests, to see how many words they recalled from a list, and a comparable visual memory test for images.

Related Articles


Students with musical training recalled significantly more words than the untrained students, and they generally learned more words with each subsequent trial of three. After 30-minute delays, the trained boys also retained more words than the control group. There were no such differences for visual memory. What's more, verbal learning performance rose in proportion to the duration of musical training.

Thus, the authors say, even fewer than six years of musical training can boost verbal memory. More training, they add, may be even better because of a "greater extent of cortical reorganization in the left temporal region." In other words, the more that music training stimulates the left brain, the better that side can handle other assigned functions, such as verbal learning. It's like cross training for the brain, comparable perhaps to how runners find that stronger legs help them play tennis better – even though they began wanting only to run. Similarly, says Chan, "Students with better verbal memory probably will find it easier to learn in school."

Chan, along with Yim-Chi Ho, M.Phil., and Mei-Chun Cheung, Ph.D., followed up a year later with the 45 orchestra students. Thirty-three boys were still in the program; nine had dropped out fewer than three months after the first study. The authors now compared a third group of 17 children who had started music training after the initial assessment. This beginner's group initially had shown significantly lower verbal-learning ability than the more musically experienced boys. However, one year later, these newer students again showed significant improvement in verbal learning.

On the other hand, unlike the music students who stuck it out, the dropouts showed no further improvement. However, although the beginners and the continued-training groups tended to improve significantly, there was one consolation for the dropouts: At least they didn't backtrack. After a year, they didn't lose the verbal memory advantage they had gained prior to stopping lessons.

Ho, Cheung and Chan propose that music training during childhood is a kind of sensory stimulation that "somehow contributes to the reorganization-better development of the left temporal lobe in musicians, which in turn facilitates cognitive processing mediated by that specific brain area, that is, verbal memory." They contrast their evidence with inconclusive reports that listening to Mozart improves spatiotemporal reasoning, which most researchers have been unable to replicate. At the same time, Chan notes that it's too simplistic to divide brain functions (such as music) strictly into left or right, because "our brain works like a network system, it is interconnected, very co-operative and amazing."

Most important, the authors say, "the [current] findings suggest that specific experience might affect the development of memory in a predictable way in accordance with the localization of brain functions. … Experience might affect the development of cognitive functions in a systematic fashion." More research is needed, but knowledge of this mechanism can "stimulate further investigation into ways to enhance human brain functioning and to develop a blueprint for cognitive rehabilitation, such as using music training to enhance verbal memory."

Article: "Music Training Improves Verbal but Not Visual Memory: Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Explorations in Children," Yim-Chi Ho, M.Phil.; Mei-Chun Cheung, Ph.D.; and Agnes S. Chan, Ph.D.; The Chinese University of Hong Kong; Neuropsychology, Vol. 17, No. 3.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Psychological Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Psychological Association. "Music Instruction Aids Verbal Memory." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 July 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/07/030729080020.htm>.
American Psychological Association. (2003, July 29). Music Instruction Aids Verbal Memory. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/07/030729080020.htm
American Psychological Association. "Music Instruction Aids Verbal Memory." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/07/030729080020.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins