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  1. Olushola

    Olushola Guest
    Musicians have better development of their left temporal lobes compared to
    non-musicians. This region of the brain facilitates cognitive processes that
    also contribute to verbal memory skills. Brain functions are not simply
    "left" or "right" brain functions. Rather, they are part of a more
    interconnected system in which developing one region is likely to enhance
    the performance of other regions as well.
    Hong Kong study explored the possibility that music training changes the
    left brain, aiding other left-brain operations

    WASHINGTON-Those dreaded piano lessons pay off in unexpected ways: According
    to a new study, children with music training had significantly better verbal
    memory than their counterparts without such training. Plus, the longer the
    training, the better the verbal memory. These findings underscore how, when
    experience changes a specific brain region, other skills that region
    supports may also benefit -- a kind of cognitive side effect that could help
    people recovering from brain injury as well as healthy children. The
    research appears in the July issue of Neuropsychology, which is published by
    the American Psychological Association (APA).

    Psychologists at the Chinese University of Hong Kong studied 90 boys between
    age six and 15. Half had musical training as members of their school's
    string orchestra program, plus lessons in playing classical music on Western
    instruments, for one to five years. The other 45 participants were
    schoolmates with no musical training. The researchers, led by Agnes S. Chan,
    Ph.D., gave the children verbal memory tests, to see how many words they
    recalled from a list, and a comparable visual memory test for images.

    Students with musical training recalled significantly more words than the
    untrained students, and they generally learned more words with each
    subsequent trial of three. After 30-minute delays, the trained boys also
    retained more words than the control group. There were no such differences
    for visual memory. What's more, verbal learning performance rose in
    proportion to the duration of musical training.

    Thus, the authors say, even fewer than six years of musical training can
    boost verbal memory. More training, they add, may be even better because of
    a "greater extent of cortical reorganization in the left temporal region."
    In other words, the more that music training stimulates the left brain, the
    better that side can handle other assigned functions, such as verbal
    learning. It's like cross training for the brain, comparable perhaps to how
    runners find that stronger legs help them play tennis better - even though
    they began wanting only to run. Similarly, says Chan, "Students with better
    verbal memory probably will find it easier to learn in school."

    Chan, along with Yim-Chi Ho, M.Phil., and Mei-Chun Cheung, Ph.D., followed
    up a year later with the 45 orchestra students. Thirty-three boys were still
    in the program; nine had dropped out fewer than three months after the first
    study. The authors now compared a third group of 17 children who had started
    music training after the initial assessment. This beginner's group initially
    had shown significantly lower verbal-learning ability than the more
    musically experienced boys. However, one year later, these newer students
    again showed significant improvement in verbal learning.

    On the other hand, unlike the music students who stuck it out, the dropouts
    showed no further improvement. However, although the beginners and the
    continued-training groups tended to improve significantly, there was one
    consolation for the dropouts: At least they didn't backtrack. After a year,
    they didn't lose the verbal memory advantage they had gained prior to
    stopping lessons.

    Ho, Cheung and Chan propose that music training during childhood is a kind
    of sensory stimulation that "somehow contributes to the
    reorganization-better development of the left temporal lobe in musicians,
    which in turn facilitates cognitive processing mediated by that specific
    brain area, that is, verbal memory." They contrast their evidence with
    inconclusive reports that listening to Mozart improves spatiotemporal
    reasoning, which most researchers have been unable to replicate. At the same
    time, Chan notes that it's too simplistic to divide brain functions (such as
    music) strictly into left or right, because "our brain works like a network
    system, it is interconnected, very co-operative and amazing."

    Most important, the authors say, "the [current] findings suggest that
    specific experience might affect the development of memory in a predictable
    way in accordance with the localization of brain functions. . Experience
    might affect the development of cognitive functions in a systematic
    fashion." More research is needed, but knowledge of this mechanism can
    "stimulate further investigation into ways to enhance human brain
    functioning and to develop a blueprint for cognitive rehabilitation, such as
    using music training to enhance verbal memory."

    Article: "Music Training Improves Verbal but Not Visual Memory:
    Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Explorations in Children," Yim-Chi Ho,
    M.Phil.; Mei-Chun Cheung, Ph.D.; and Agnes S. Chan, Ph.D.; The Chinese
    University of Hong Kong; Neuropsychology, Vol. 17, No. 3.

    Full text of the article is available from the APA Public Affairs Office or

    Reporters: Agnes S. Chan can be reached by Email or by phone at (852) 2609

    The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the
    largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in
    the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists.
    APA's membership includes more than 150,000 researchers, educators,
    clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 53 subfields
    of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian
    provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a
    profession and as a means of promoting human welfare.

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