Music Go Round: Makes the world

A Review of the Impact of Music Training on Non-musical Cognitive Functions

As a subject for scientific research, musical training is becoming more popular. We review all the studies that have been done to determine if and to what extent musical experience can be applied to cognitive functions not related to Music Go Round ability in healthy people. It seems that music training has enhancing effects on cognitive functions, not just the auditory one. Although we conclude that musical engagement can be useful for cognitive enhancement, more research is needed to examine individual differences and to establish actual benefits.

Introduction Music Go Round

It is becoming more common to study the impact of music on daily life. This has led to a variety of studies over the past decade on cognitive benefits that learning how to play musical instruments might have on players. It is not surprising that musicians are better than non-musicians at various music-related skills. (See Schellenberg, 2005; Zatorre, 2007, for reviews). These studies, however, mostly demonstrate the effectiveness of the training program. However, musical training is showing similar results to other areas such as bilingualism, video gaming, and meditation. This suggests that there is near and far transfer of cognitive-training skills (Li et. al. 2008). We will be reviewing the neuroscientific and behavioral studies that have been done on these effects. Then, we will assess how musical exercise affects cognitive functions in healthy people.

Neuroplasticity Music Go Round

Jancke (2009) suggests that learning how to play an instrument can cause structural and functional brain changes due to the continual activation of brain regions involved in these learning processes. Our research reveals that differences between musicians and non-musicians may be seen not only in brain regions involved in the processing of auditory and visual information, but also in frontal areas associated with higher-order cognitive control processes involved when producing music. Researchers used voxel-based Morphometry to analyze the gray matter density in people who had undergone musical training. A higher level of musical proficiency was associated with a greater gray matter density in left inferior frontal, which is responsible for syntactic processing, executive functions and working memory. It also had an effect on the left intraparietal, which is responsible for visuomotor coordination. Gray matter density was also significantly higher in brain areas that are involved in visual pattern recognition (right fusiform) and in tonal sensitivities (right mid orbital).

Studies in the past have shown that Music Go Round or musician-enhanced neuroplasticity can be beneficial not only during childhood (e.g. Hyde et. al. 2009a,b), when children are more susceptible to plastic changes but also throughout life. A school-based longitudinal study that was done in 2015 found that musical training in schools can have an effect on developmental plasticity, even though it is initiated in adolescence. This finding suggests that the brain of an adolescent is still open to learning, despite the fact that childhood-associated plasticity has begun to decline (Penhune 2011, 2011). A second study, by Bidelman and Alain (2015), has found that there is a link between musical training and neuroplasticity in older adults. It was discovered that older musicians had higher neuroplasticity in the auditory stem and cortex than older adults who had little to no musical training. This is a particularly interesting finding as it suggests that music training may have long-lasting effects. It could compensate for neuroplastic age-related decreases in auditory brain processing that are normal with normal aging. According to Alain et. al. (2014), musicians may have a cognitive reserve that can delay or reverse the effects of age-related cognitive declines. More research is needed to confirm the effects of musical training on the brains of the elderly and to show a causal link between musical experience, neuroplasticity, and the elderly.

Phonemic Awareness, Reading Abilities and Language

It is not surprising, as we have already stated, that learning a musical instrument can lead to an improvement in music-related abilities. Kraus and colleagues (2014) found that children with learning difficulties who had received 2 years of music training in school improved their neurophysiological ability to discriminate similar speech sounds. Similar studies showed that children who had years of musical training were better at discerning small pitch variations in melodies. Neurophysiological studies of the same sort have shown that this skill is accompanied by an increase of error-related negativity in the event-related-potential (ERP) when listening to incongruent tones as well as shorter latencies in positive ERP components (Magne et al., 2006; Moreno et al., 2009). This enhancement in pitch discrimination in melodies was also associated with a better performance in discriminating small pitch variations in spoken sentences. This is an indication that there has been some musical training. 

It is possible that this observation is related to the finding that people suffering from dyslexia have more deficits in a pitch-discrimination-task when they have to find variations in frequency in normal tones than controls (Baldeweg et al., 1999; Besson et al., 2007). Anvari et. al., 2002 found that preschoolers have a positive correlation between their phonological awareness and their ability to perceive the tone structure of the heard words. Additionally, they had better phonemic awareness and reading skills. These findings indicate that music perception and phonological awareness may share similar structural mechanisms. Two longitudinal studies that involved 8-10-year-olds who were subject to a 2-year music or painting training program have provided additional evidence. Children who received Music Go Round training had better speech segmentation skills than those who were given painting training (Francois and al. 2013). They also showed enhanced preattentive processing for syllabic durations and voice onset times after only 12 months (Chobert and al. 2014). Slater and colleagues. (2015) presented the first longitudinal evidence showing that speech-in noise perception improves following 2 years of training with group music.


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