There have been many studies indicating the positive impact that learning music can have on the cognitive abilities of young children. A new study from a research team led by Nina Kraus of Northwestern University, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that music training, even when begun in the adolescent years, has significant cognitive, emotional, and behavioral benefits for students.
They followed a group of teenage students from low-income neighborhoods around Chicago and tested them just before their freshman year and during their senior years. Nineteen of the students were engaged in musical training and 21 of the students participated in Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps. Testing focused on language skills and sounds. The music group that studied music showed more rapid maturation in the brain’s response to sound and heightened brain sensitivity to sound details, compared to those enrolled in JROTC.
These results could prove valuable when evaluating the need for public school music programs, which are increasingly begun at a later age due to budget cuts.