New research suggests that when kids learn a musical instrument, they might get an added bonus: Enhanced reading and language skills.
The study, presented at the recent annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, found that 9- and 10-year-old kids who were taught music had better reading scores versus those who didn't get the lessons.
In the study, a team led by Dr. Nina Kraus of Northwestern University in Chicago tracked academic outcomes for children in lower-income neighborhoods in Chicago and Los Angeles.
Kids who got music lessons five or more hours per week didn't experience any decline in reading test scores -- something typically expected for many children in poorer areas, the BBC reported.
The researchers also tracked the children's brain activity and found that after two years of music training, children seemed better at distinguishing one sound from another, even when there was background noise.
"While more-affluent students do better in school than children from lower-income backgrounds, we are finding that musical training can alter the nervous system to create a better learner and help offset this academic gap," Kraus told the BBC.
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