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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cognitive development, Verbal Skills and Emotional Intelligence

Effects of Music on the Brain
Cognitive development, Verbal Skills and Emotional Intelligence

Music has been known to alleviate stress by increasing the body’s release of endorphins—the feel good chemicals. New research also reveals that music produces powerful effects on the brain, promoting cognitive development, verbal skills and emotional intelligence.

Music and Cognitive Development
A great deal of evidence exists showing a correlation between musical training in childhood and cognitive proficiency. Canadian researchers measuring changes in brain responses to music in children aged 4 to 6 discovered that children who took Suzuki music lessons had greater improvements in IQ scores and specific skills such as literacy, visiospatial processing, verbal memory and mathematics. The study suggests that music training has a profound effect on rewiring the brain for cognitive functions.

Another study undertaken at Georgetown University Medical Center shows that music exercises all areas in the brain involved with attention. Peak activity in the brain occurs when listeners are engaged in the pauses of silence between movements, suggesting that music activates networks in the brain associated with anticipation, attention and neural clairvoyance.

Can music help produce better readers? Definitely, according to a research done at Northwestern University which suggests that music training is directly linked to enhanced verbal proficiency. In fact, researchers at the university suggest that musical training may be more effective for developing verbal skills than learning phonics. Why?

The brain’s multi-sensory engagement during music practice and performance enhances the same communication skills needed for speaking and reading. Musicians sharpen a specialized neural system for processing sight and sound, music and speech, which means that early musical training can help children develop literacy skills and reduce literacy disorders. Listening to music while exercising has also been shown to help increase verbal fluency scores among cardiac rehabilitation patients.

Music and Emotional Intelligence
Perhaps the most compelling effect of music on the brain is its development of emotional intelligence. The latest research shows that music training sharpens an individual’s ability to recognize emotion in sound, an ability that goes a long way in terms of developing sensitivity to emotional cues and intuitive understanding of social contexts, two skills critical to emotional intelligence. Music training fine-tunes an individual’s perception of the emotional landscape around him, allowing him greater flexibility in dealing with human relationships.

There is no doubt that music promotes both cognitive proficiency and emotional probity.The effects of music on the brain are so pervasive and pronounced that mandatory and subsidized pre-school music education should be espoused for all children.


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