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Relationship Between Musical Aptitude And Reading Ability

Discussion in 'Physiology' started by Egyptian Doctor, Oct 18, 2011.

  1. Egyptian Doctor

    Egyptian Doctor Moderator Verified Doctor

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    Auditory working memory and attention, for example the ability to hear and then
    remember instructions while completing a task, are a necessary part of musical
    ability. But musical ability is also related to verbal memory and literacy in
    childhood. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal
    Behavioral and Brain Functions shows how auditory working memory and
    musical aptitude are intrinsically related to reading ability, and provides a
    biological basis for this link.

    Researchers from the Auditory
    Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University tested children on their
    ability to read and to recognize words. This was compared to the extent of their
    auditory working memory (remembering a sequence of numbers and then being able
    to quote them in reverse), and musical aptitude (both melody and rhythm). The
    electrical activity within the children's brains was also measured as auditory
    brainstem responses to rhythmic, or random, sounds based on speech.

    The
    team lead by Dr Nina Kraus found that poor readers had reduced neural response
    (auditory brainstem activity) to rhythmic rather than random sounds compared to
    good readers. In fact the level of neural enhancement to acoustic regularities
    correlated with reading ability as well as musical aptitude. The musical ability
    test, specifically the rhythm aspect, was also related to reading ability.
    Similarly a good score on the auditory working memory related to better reading
    and to the rhythm aspect of musical ability.

    Dr Kraus explained, "Both
    musical ability and literacy correlated with enhanced electrical signals within
    the auditory brainstem. Structural equation modeling of the data revealed that
    music skill, together with how the nervous system responds to regularities in
    auditory input and auditory memory/attention accounts for about 40% of the
    difference in reading ability between children. These results add weight to the
    argument that music and reading are related via common neural and cognitive
    mechanisms and suggests a mechanism for the improvements in literacy seen with
    musical training."

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