Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Music therapy fails dyslexics: No link between dyslexia and a lack of musical ability, study finds

Date:
April 10, 2010
Source:
Inderscience Publishers
Summary:
There is no link between a lack of musical ability and dyslexia. Moreover, attempts to treat dyslexia with music therapy are unwarranted, according to scientists in Belgium.

There is no link between a lack of musical ability and dyslexia. Moreover, attempts to treat dyslexia with music therapy are unwarranted, according to scientists in Belgium writing in the current issue of the International Journal of Arts and Technology.

Cognitive neuroscientist José Morais of the Free University of Brussels and colleagues point out that research into dyslexia has pointed to a problem with how the brain processes sounds and how dyslexic readers manipulate the sounds from which words are composed, the phonemes, consciously and intentionally. It was a relatively short step between the notion that dyslexia is an issue of phonological processing and how this might also be associated with poor musical skills -- amusia -- that has led to approaches to treating the condition using therapy to improve a dyslexic reader's musical skills.

Morais and colleagues demonstrate that theoretically this is an invalid argument and also present experimental evidence to show that there is no justification either for the link or for using music therapy to treat dyslexia.

Language and music are apparently uniquely human traits and many researchers have tried to find direct links between the two. A whole industry of music therapy hinges on this purported association with claims that language remediation is possible through the application of learning in music. Given the social importance of literacy, a role for music in helping poor or dyslexic readers to overcome their difficulties has been at the forefront of therapy for many years. Morais' team points out that the notion is based on studies that are generally flawed in two respects.

The first problem with studies that attempt to link a lack of musical ability with reading difficulties is that the quality of published empirical studies is quite variable and many reviews of the field fail to discard papers containing insufficient information, either on materials and methods, or on the experimental results. The second flaw is that many studies imply an explicit causality between amusia and dyslexia on the basis of results that are themselves merely statistical correlations. Such an approach to science leads to a circular argument in which some researchers argue that music discrimination predicts phonological skills, which in turn predicts reading ability and that reading ability implies phonological skills and so on.

More recent studies have broken the link between hearing and reading by showing that deaf children, who often learn to perceive speech accurately using lip reading and visual clues can have literacy levels just as high as hearing children. Of course, most of those children do not develop good musical ability with respect to musical pitch. Conversely, people who are unable even to hum a familiar tune show normal literacy levels.

Music and speech do overlap, but musical sounds and phonemes are not the same, the researchers explain. Musical tones are simply sounds, however, they are produced and can be heard without recourse to complex auditory analysis. Phonemes, in contrast, whether spoken or read, are abstractions of the units into which language might be broken down. They are purely symbolic and require significantly more interpretation to understand than simply hearing a sound.

"The conscious representations of phonemes play a crucial role in the learning of literacy abilities in the alphabetic writing system. Children do not become spontaneously aware of phonemes. Nor do they become aware of phonemes by learning music," the researchers say. The team has now studied the differing abilities of children, both with and without dyslexia, on understanding and interpretation of phonemes and syllables and musical notes and the intervals between them in a melody. They saw no significant differences between dyslexic readers and age-matched normal readers in the melodic tests.

Literacy is crucially dependent on phonological skills, but alphabetic literacy is strongly constrained by the development of phoneme awareness and abilities, and phonemes have no correspondence in music, the team explains. Thus, although music, through its emotional characteristics, might be a great motivational support for speech-based therapy, this limits, to a large extent, the possibilities of using music training to re-educate dyslexic readers.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. José Morais et al. Music and dyslexia. International Journal of Arts and Technology, 2010; 3: 177-194

Cite This Page:

Inderscience Publishers. "Music therapy fails dyslexics: No link between dyslexia and a lack of musical ability, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100408111313.htm>.
Inderscience Publishers. (2010, April 10). Music therapy fails dyslexics: No link between dyslexia and a lack of musical ability, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100408111313.htm
Inderscience Publishers. "Music therapy fails dyslexics: No link between dyslexia and a lack of musical ability, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100408111313.htm (accessed August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) — Scientists are tripping the elderly on purpose in a Chicago lab in an effort to better prevent seniors from falling and injuring themselves in real life. (Aug.28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) — It’s an unusual condition with a colorful name. Kids with “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome see sudden distortions in objects they’re looking at or their own bodies appear to change size, a lot like the main character in the Lewis Carroll story. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) — Scientists have long called choline a “brain booster” essential for human development. Not only does it aid in memory and learning, researchers now believe choline could help prevent mental illness. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) — Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive brain cancer in humans. Now a new treatment using the patient’s own tumor could help slow down its progression and help patients live longer. Video provided by Ivanhoe
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:
from the past week

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