A report by Dr Nina Krauss and Jessica Slater of Northwestern University once again reinforces the very fundamental importance of music. This time, the research points to its possible role in the development of human cognition, by providing social bonding and shared emotion.
The study concludes that music and language are two sides of the human communication coin. While language is effective for semantically precise communication, the great strength of music lies in its facilitation of social bonding and shared emotion.
Both systems of communication are derived from the fundamental building blocks of sound, its inherent harmonic properties, and its temporal patterns. In many senses music and language are sewn from the same cloth, but their complementary strengths may have played distinct and important roles in the emergence of human cognition and learning.
Brainvolts (Northwestern University): http://www.brainvolts.northwestern.edu/documents/Kraus_Slater_2015.pdf
A study by Dr Nina Krauss and Dana L Strait at Northwestern University concludes that musician children and adults who make music demonstrate biological distinctions in auditory processing when compared with non-musicians.
For example, musician children and adults have more robust neural encoding of speech harmonics, more adaptive sound processing, and more precise neural encoding of acoustically similar sounds; these enhancements may make musicians better at hearing speech in amongst noise (see also this post here about focused attention), and reading.
Although it isn’t possible to separate the effects from the demographic and innate qualities that may pre-distinguish musicians, because the lab works with community music programmes involving a wide range of young people including those in challenging circumstances, the outcomes indicate that many of musicians’ auditory-related biological enhancements can develop through musical training and so this may well promote the acquisition of language skills, including in ‘at-risk’ populations.
Brainvolts (Northwestern University): http://www.brainvolts.northwestern.edu/documents/Kraus_Strait_NYAS_2015.pdf
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