Thursday, November 24, 2011

Brief musical training in kids enhances other high level cognitive skills.

Article like this one from Moreno et al. make me think that my life long piano practice may be part of the reason I'm still hanging onto a few of my mental marbles as I age. (I realized the other day that my sight reading of complex musical scores, which requires glancing several measures ahead of the one being played, and remembering them, is essentially working memory training of the sort that has been shown to enhance general intelligence.) Here is the abstract from Moreno et al:
Researchers have designed training methods that can be used to improve mental health and to test the efficacy of education programs. However, few studies have demonstrated broad transfer from such training to performance on untrained cognitive activities. Here we report the effects of two interactive computerized training programs developed for preschool children: one for music and one for visual art. After only 20 days of training, only children in the music group exhibited enhanced performance on a measure of verbal intelligence, with 90% of the sample showing this improvement. These improvements in verbal intelligence were positively correlated with changes in functional brain plasticity during an executive-function task. Our findings demonstrate that transfer of a high-level cognitive skill is possible in early childhood.

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