Page 6 - The Benefits of Music Education
P. 6

  A CONVERSATION
WITH
DR. SYLVAIN MORENO
Lead Scientist,
Centre for Brain Fitness, Rotman Research Institute
“MUSIC IS AN INCREDIBLY POWERFUL TOOL, WE’RE LEARNING.” Dr  Sylvain Moreno
DR. MORENO IS STUDYING HOW TRAINING AND REHABILITATION CAN AFFECT HIGHER ORDER PROCESSES, SUCH AS LANGUAGE AND INTELLIGENCE.
THE RCM: TELL US ABOUT YOUR WORK 
DR. MORENO: My area of expertise is in human development, and how we can impact the brains of children through musical training 
THE RCM: WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED?
DR. MORENO: Musical training impacts a set of processes in the brain that are related to a whole host of other activities, from intelligence and reading to the ability to focus and do well in school  When we understood that musical training is bene cial, we set out to learn the exact bene ts and limits 
We started this way because there is a link between music and language  They’re both auditory activities and they share the same acoustic parameters  They even share the same goal of communicating to a human being 
So we studied reading and we have shown that musical training improves reading  We looked at verbal intelligence and there was an absolute trend of improvement  These were some of
the positive intellectual bene ts that we measured 
THE RCM: ANY SURPRISES IN YOUR RESEARCH?
DR. MORENO: It was really astonishing to see how quickly the brain changed in response to musical training  We provided musical training to young children, and within 20 days we would see a shift in a number of cognitive areas 
We started with one simple question: “Is musical training bene cial?” and the answer that we got was a resounding “YES ” Musical training has a positive impact on a set of core neural processes
that are related to focus, intelligence, reading, academics and more 
Music is an incredibly powerful tool, we’re learning 
THE RCM: HOW CONCLUSIVE WERE YOUR FINDINGS?
DR. MORENO: The standard for a typical scienti c study is 60 to 70%  That is, we would have to show that musical training impacts this percentage of the participants  Our research showed that musical training impacted over 90% of the children we studied  We asked three different people to reanalyze our data to con rm our  ndings 
THE RCM: THIS CERTAINLY VALIDATES WHAT SO MANY CANADIAN PARENTS HAVE ALWAYS BELIEVED ABOUT THE VALUE OF MUSIC LESSONS 
A FEW WORDS ABOUT HOW DR. MORENO CONDUCTED
HIS RESEARCH
DR. MORENO AND COLLEAGUES conducted a pair of studies designed to examine the effect of musical training on the developing brain  In the  rst of these studies, 32 eight-year-old children were given free music or painting lessons over a
six month period 
None of the children had any prior music or painting training  They were randomly assigned to either the music or the painting group (so the researchers could ensure that any outcomes did not come from a biased selection) 
The children were tested before and after training  These tests included measurements of reading skills, cognitive abilities, and listening abilities 
Following the training, the music group (but not the painting group) showed improvement in reading skills  They were better able to connect written words with their spoken sounds – a critical component of literacy 
The children taking music lessons were also better at hearing changes in intonation – not only in music, but also in speech – which is critical for understanding emotion and nuance in conversation 
The researchers also monitored the children’s brain waves using neuroimaging techniques  This research showed increased activity in regions associated with careful listening to speech and music 
In the second study, 48 preschool children between the ages of four and six were tested in a similar program  These children engaged
in a computerized training program, led by an instructor, over the course of one month  Again children were randomly assigned to either a music or visual art group 
At the end of the training, the children who had been given music (but not visual art) lessons, improved in measures of verbal intelligence and attention  Over 90% of the children taking music lessons showed this improvement  These children also showed signi cant changes in their brains’ processing of items requiring a controlled response, or attention 
SOURCES
Short-Term Music Training Enhances Verbal Intelligence and Executive Function; Sylvain Moreno, Ellen Bialystok, Raluca Barac, E. Glenn Schellenberg, Nicholas J. Cepeda and Tom Chau; Psychological Science, 2011
Musical Training In uences Linguistic Abilities in Eight-year- old Children: More Evidence for Brain Plasticity; Sylvain Moreno, Carlos Marques, Andreia Santos, Manuela Santos, Sa˜o Luís Castro and Mireille Besson; Cerebral Cortex (Volume 19, Issue 3), 2009
 4 The Royal Conservatory April 2014





























































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