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Music Benefits Infants' Brains

Friday, 11 May 2012 11:41 PM


Very early music lessons given to babies – before they can even walk or talk – appear to boost their brain development and social skills, a new first-of its-kind study has found.
Researchers at McMaster University found that 1-year-old babies who take music classes with their parents smile more often, communicate better and demonstrate earlier and more sophisticated brain responses to music.
The findings -- published in the scientific journals Developmental Science and Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences – suggest “the infant brain might be particularly plastic with regard to musical exposure," said Laurel Trainor, director of the McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind.
Trainor received an award from the Grammy Foundation in 2008 to study the effects of musical training in infancy. Most studies of music and children have focused on the benefits to older kids.
For Trainor’s study, babies and their parents spent six months participating in one of two types of weekly music instruction. One class involved interactive music-making and parents and infants learned to play percussion instruments and sing songs together. In second class, infants and parents played at various toy stations while musical recordings played in the background.
Researchers found babies in the interactive classes responded better to music and even developed more sophisticated communication skills.
"Babies who participated in the interactive music classes with their parents showed earlier sensitivity to the pitch structure in music…and showed larger and/or earlier brain responses to musical tones," Trainer said.
They also demonstrated “better early communication skills, like pointing at objects that are out of reach, or waving goodbye,” she added. “Socially, these babies also smiled more, were easier to soothe, and showed less distress when things were unfamiliar or didn't go their way.”


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Music lessons given to infants, before they can walk or talk, boost their social skills and brain development.
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Friday, 11 May 2012 11:41 PM
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