Research by Laurel Trainor, director of the Institute for Music and the Mind at McMaster University in West Hamilton, Ontario, shows that a strong correlation exists between musical training and attention. Her research demonstrates that musical training appears to modify the brain’s auditory cortex.
“We therefore hypothesize that musical training…..affects attention and memory, which provides a mechanism whereby musical training might lead to better learning across a number of domains.”
Harvard University researcher Gottfried Schlaug has also studied the cognitive benefits of music. Schlaug and his colleagues found a correlation between early-childhood training in music and enhanced motor and auditory skills as well as improvements in verbal ability and nonverbal reasoning.
It has also been noted that different instruments appear to cause a varying modification within the brain. Changes in the brains of singers occur in slightly different locations than those seen for keyboard or string players. (I’m sure there is potential for a singer/viola player joke in there!)
Seriously though if we are going to give politicians, sponsors and donors concrete reasons for supporting music, its ability to enhance attention (and therefore improve efficiency) is a very good starting point.
For more information on Laurel Trainor’s pioneering research see: http://www.psychology.mcmaster.ca/ljt/index.htm
Coming soon: B is for Brain Engagement