The findings of a Northwestern University study in 2013 demonstrate that accurate beat-keeping involves synchronization between the parts of the brain responsible for hearing as well as movement. Where previous research investigations focused on the motor half of the equation, Dr Nina Kraus and co-author Adam Tierney focused on the auditory component.
The research involved 124 Chicago high school students who visited Dr Kraus’s laboratory and were given two tests. In the first, they were asked to listen to a metronome and tap their finger along to it on a special tapping pad. Their tapping accuracy was based on how closely their taps aligned in time to the tick-tock of the metronome.
In the second test, the students were fitted with electrodes measuring the consistency of their brain response to a repeated syllable. The more accurate the adolescents were at tapping along to the beat, the more consistent their brain response was to the speech syllable.
The study – the first to provide biological evidence linking the ability to keep a beat to the neural encoding of speech sounds – has significant implications for reading, according to Nina Kraus, director of Northwestern’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory.
“Rhythm is an integral part of both music and language,” Kraus says. “And the rhythm of spoken language is a crucial cue to understanding. Musicians have highly consistent auditory-neural responses. It may be that musical training – with its emphasis on rhythmic skills – can exercise the auditory-system, leading to less neural jitter and stronger sound-to-meaning associations that are so essential to learning to read.”
The Journal of Neuroscience: http://www.jneurosci.org/content/33/38/14981.full
|BENEFIT:||READING & LANGUAGE SKILLS|
|TARGET GROUP:||YOUNG PEOPLE|
|TYPE OF STUDY:||ACADEMIC RESEARCH|
|PERIOD OF STUDY:||UNKNOWN|