Music training in late childhood aids cognitive development

New research by the University of Texas, Austin has found that there’s a cognitive advantage in starting music lessons in late childhood – after eight years old.

The research involved 69 people between the ages of 18 and 32, who were divided into three groups:
• those who had at least eight years of musical training beginning at, or before, the age of eight;
• those who had the same amount of training, but began at age nine or later;
• non-musicians (i.e. participants who had less than two years of musical training and were not playing an instrument).

They all played the Iowa Gambling Task, which is designed to simulate real-life decision making. The participants were presented with four decks of cards, and when they turned over a card they received a reward or a penalty. Gradually, the participants who began musical training after eight-years-old made better choices than those who started earlier, or never took lessons at all, and worked out that two of the decks were more likely to contain penalty cards, so they switched to the other two decks.

In the journal Psychology of Music, the researchers – Kirsten Smayda from the Department of Psychology at the University, and  her colleagues Bharath Chandrasekaran and Darrell Worthy – write: “One possible explanation is that music training beginning late in childhood capitalizes on the period of significant maturation in the prefrontal cortex.” That region of the brain, they note, has been tied to optimal performance on this gambling task.

Image from Pixabay, reproduced under Creative Commons CC0.

SOURCES:
Pacific Standard: https://psmag.com/education/trained-musicians-make-better-decisions
ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319238075_Better_late_than_never_or_early_Music_training_in_late_childhood_is_associated_with_enhanced_decision-making
Psychology of Music: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0305735617723721?journalCode=poma&
Iowa Gambling Task: http://www.sjdm.org/dmidi/Iowa_Gambling_Task.html
Anita Collins Bigger Better Brains Project: https://en-gb.facebook.com/BiggerBetterBrainsProject/

DETAILS:

BENEFIT: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
TARGET GROUP: ADULTS
AGE: 18-32 YEARS-OLD
MUSIC TYPE: GENERAL
TYPE OF STUDY: ACADEMIC RESEARCH
NOs INVOLVED: 69
PERIOD OF STUDY: UNKNOWN
DATE: 2017
PLACE: USA

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