Thursday, August 06, 2015

Benefits of High School Music training.

Maybe my avoiding gym classes in high school by being in the marching band and chorus paid off some brain benefits (in addition to my already being a pianist). This this work from Tierney et al. also suggests that the nationwide savaging of high school music curricula is a really bad idea.:
Fundamental changes in brain structure and function during adolescence are well-characterized, but the extent to which experience modulates adolescent neurodevelopment is not. Musical experience provides an ideal case for examining this question because the influence of music training begun early in life is well-known. We investigated the effects of in-school music training, previously shown to enhance auditory skills, versus another in-school training program that did not focus on development of auditory skills (active control). We tested adolescents on neural responses to sound and language skills before they entered high school (pretraining) and again 3 y later. Here, we show that in-school music training begun in high school prolongs the stability of subcortical sound processing and accelerates maturation of cortical auditory responses. Although phonological processing improved in both the music training and active control groups, the enhancement was greater in adolescents who underwent music training. Thus, music training initiated as late as adolescence can enhance neural processing of sound and confer benefits for language skills. These results establish the potential for experience-driven brain plasticity during adolescence and demonstrate that in-school programs can engender these changes.