A study by scientists at the University of Washington's Institute for learning & Brain Sciences shows that music and play sessions improved 9-month-old babies' brain processing of both music and new speech sounds.
Music, like language, has strong rhythmic patterns. The timing of syllables helps listeners define one speech sound from another and understand what someone is saying. This ability to identify differences in speech sounds is what helps babies to learn to speak.
In the study, carried out in 2016, one group of babies (the control group) attended play sessions without music, whilst the other group attended music-based play sessions. After only 12 sessions, the babies in the music group showed stronger brain responses to music and rhythm than the babies in the control group.
Institute director, Patricia Kuhl said, “Schools have decreased music experiences for children, but this research reminds us that the effects of engaging in music go beyond music itself. 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.”
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