Who says rock music is bad for kids?
According to a recent study, music can help babies pick up languages quicker, thanks to the early exposure to detecting rhythms. This is another bit of intriguing insight to music’s ability to tap into universal human instincts.
In the study conducted by a team from the University of Washington, nine-month-old toddlers were guided through 12 music sessions for 15 minutes apiece. Another set of babies went through the same enrichment session, sans music. The results showed the children who’re rocking and rolling showed more brain activity than the other set of kids.
“Our study is the first in young babies to suggest that experiencing a rhythmic pattern in music can also improve the ability to detect and make predictions about rhythmic patterns in speech,” said Christina Zhao, a researcher who led the study.
Further testing their hypothesis, the research team played music that missed a beat on occasion, as well as a pattern of nonsense words that occasionally violated the pattern.
The babies that listened to music could pick out and recognize the mistakes better than the non-music babies.
“This means that early, engaging musical experiences can have a more global effect on cognitive skills,” Zhao explained.
To analyze the brain activities in the infants, a real-time brain scan called magnetoencephalography was employed. They trained the babies using waltz rhythms, with songs like “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
The research team also added that nine months isn’t too early, but the perfect age to start exposing children to music.
“It’s the time when infants go from being universal perceivers of all the languages, all the sounds in all the languages, to being experts in their own language,” said Patricia Kuhl, who heads the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences at the University of Washington.
“We think that’s why we saw the generalization of the effect from music to speech.”
In all, if you want your children to have a greater capacity to absorb and learn, music is a cheap and easy way to do it.
“Schools across our nation are decreasing music experiences for our children, saying they are too expensive,” Kuhl said.
“Music experience has the potential to boost broader cognitive skills that enhance children’s abilities to detect, expect and react quickly to patterns in the world, which is highly relevant in today’s complex world.”