Playing a musical instrument can improve a child's brain

Author: villaget   Date Posted:30 December 2014 

Playing the piano

Kids who are trained in music have better attention spans, a better grip on their emotions, and are less likely to be anxious. Psychologists studied the connection between musical training and brain development to find that playing an instrument can shape a young person’s brain and help them with functions such as emotion processing and attention. It has previously been known that thinning or thickening of specific areas of the outer layer of the brain – the cortex can be linked to instances of anxiety or depression, problems with attention span, aggression and other behavioural problems, even in kids who are otherwise perfectly healthy. The large study was run by researchers at the University of Vermont College of Medicine in the USA and was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry


The researchers found that learning a musical instrument calls for control and coordination of very specific movements, and the activity alters the motor areas of the brain that regulate behaviour. It reportedly influences the thickness in the part of the cortex that relates to "executive functioning, including working memory, attentional control as well as organisation and planning for the future." They also found that a child's musical backgtround was also correlated to the thickness of the cortex in areas that play a crucial role in the emotional processing and inhibitory control. Researchers also concluded that we need to make an effort to make these activities more attractiv eto young people and also find new and innovative ways to make music training more widely available to youths, beginning in childhood. Full article originally posted in science alert.