Children who have musical training also have significantly better verbal memory than children who don’t, and the difference increases the longer they study.
The finding was made by psychologists at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and reported in the July issue of the journal Neuropsychology.
Researchers Anges Chan, Yim-Chi Ho and Mei-Chun Cheung propose that music training during childhood contributes to the reorganization and increased development of the brain’s left temporal lobes in musicians.
They believe that this occurrence facilitates cognitive processing mediated by that specific brain area — verbal memory.
Their proposal is based on their study of 90 boys between the age of six and 15.
Half belonged to their school’s string orchestra program and received lessons playing classical music on Western instruments for one to five years.
The other half received no musical training.
After administering verbal memory tests that calculated the number of words children could recall from a list, and a comparable visual memory test for images, the researchers found that students with musical training had better verbal memory.
Musically trained students retained more words even after a 30 minute delay.