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Music Exercises to Improve Verbal Skills

Sep 27, 2007

Scientists have already proved the fact that music training has positive effects on the ability of our nervous system to process sight and sound. Today it is believed to be even more important that learning phonics. Researchers from Northwestern University, in their new study, found that music exercises improve verbal communication skills.

In order to practice and perform a certain piece of music, musicians need to use all of their senses. In addition, when playing, they watch other musicians, read their lips, as well as feel and hear. Thus musicians keep in touch with multi-sensory skills. The new study showed that the brain's variation coming from the process of music training, which requires the involvement of several censors, improves the same communication skills, which are needed for both speaking and reading.

Nina Kraus, who works as a Hugh Knowles Professor of Communication Sciences and Neurobiology and director of Northwestern's Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory, the place where scientists performed their science, outlined that the level of audiovisual processing was much higher in the brain of musicians than the counterparts of non-musicians. In addition she added that musicians proved to be more sensitive to small changes in speech and music sounds. "Our study indicates that the high-level cognitive processing of music affects automatic processing that occurs early in the processing stream and fundamentally shapes sensory circuitry," she outlined.

The brainstem is the place where the multi-sensory processing of our nervous system has its beginning. It represents an evolutionarily ancient part of a human's brain, which scientists previously believed to be somewhat unmalleable.

Gabriella Musacchia, the study's lead author and a doctoral student at Northwestern's Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory, stated that musicians have a particular neural system, which is responsible for processing both sight and sound in human's ancient part of the brain, the brainstem.

Due to the fact that the brainstem provides a pathway, which is responsible for processing music and speech, the findings of the study state that musical training could help children in improving literacy skills and fight literacy disorders.

The study involved both people with various musical training and those with no musical training at all. All participants wore scalp electrodes meant for estimating the multi-sensory responses of their brain to audio and video of both a cellist, who played a certain melody and a person speaking.

The information that researchers collected showed that individuals who practiced music for many years had a better basic sound encoding mechanisms. These people are also relevant for speech.

"The study underscores the extreme malleability of auditory function by music training and the potential of music to tune our neural response to the world around us," outlined one of the study's authors.

Due to the fact that children inherently have a better perception of music than phonics, the new research suggests that music exercises may benefit for improving literacy skills.

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