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Music and Brain Development Essay

There are three major perspectives on the positive impact of music education to the core curricula in school. The study on how music shares value to brain development has opened new views for all educators. According to the study of Neurological Research in February 1997, music develops abstract reasoning skills needed for the learning process of children in math and science. It was proven that training in music is more efficient than computer learning for teaching math and science skills (Peretz and Zatorre, 2005).

 It was reported that music training could be more effective than computer instruction for teaching these skills. The findings were the result of a two year experiment with preschoolers by Rauscher et. Al. Wriht et al in 1997, compared the effects of musical and non-musical training on intellectual development as a follow-up to their studies on music can enhance spatial-reasoning. They concluded that music enhanced brain functions that were required for learning mathematics, science and engineering (Brust, 2003).

Several studies have suggested that beginning music training early corresponds to greater growth in certain areas of the brain (Schlang et al, 2003). For example, researchers in Germany identified the planum temporale, a part of the left hemisphere as the region of the brain responsible for the perfect pitch and speech. This term used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to look at the planun temporale in non-musicians and professional musicians, some with perfect pitch and some without it. They discovered that the planum temporale in those with perfect pitch was twice as large as the other groups. Also with perfect pitch has started a music lesson before age seven.

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Rauscher et al. (1997) found that musicians had thicker nerve fibers in the corpus callosum, the part of the brain that carries signals between the two hemispheres, if they started keyboard training before the age of seven. Babo (2001) discussed, researchers, work at the University of Konstanz in Germany which focused that exposure to music helped to rewire neural circuits. They concluded that the brains of pianists were more efficient at making skilled movements than the brains of others. These findings suggested that musical training could enhance brain function (Trainor and Schmidt, 2003).

Schlaug et al. (1995) used MRI to discover that musicians who started studying music before the age of 7 had regions in their brains (the corpus callosum and the right motor cortex) that were larger than corresponding regions in both non-musicians and musicians whose training began at a later age. However, in response to questions about his study, Schlaug et al preferred not to recommend when music should be taught, since some very skilled musicians began performing in their twenties or thirties.

Schlaug et al. also reported that most musicians who have perfect pitch started music lessons before the age of seven. However, according to Diamond and Hopson (1998), “early music training is associated with more growth in this one particular brain region…. if training starts later or is absent altogether, perfect pitch rarely shows up” (p. 4).

Zatorre (2003) reported evidence that infants are born with nervous systems devoted exclusively to music. Studies are showing that early and ongoing musical training can help organize and develop children’s brains. In a study to determine the effect of systematic prenatal musical stimulation by observing musical behaviors exhibited between birth and 6, Fujioka et al (2006) found that infants who received systematic prenatal musical stimulation exhibited “remarkable attention behaviors.  Those infants could imitate accurately sounds made by adults (including non-family members), and appear to structure vocalization much earlier than infants who did not have prenatal musical training” (p. 21).  Only quite the researches focused on the prenatal musical training of the fetus.

Personal Reflection

I believe that musicians have more active contribution to brain development because they are required to perform in more complex sequences of finger movements. Musicians are regularly adapting to decisions on tempo, tone, style, rhythm, phrasing and feeling-training the brain to become incredibly good at organizing and performing a lot of activities all at the same time. Musicians in my point of view, exercise orchestration that have better payoff for lifelong attention skills, intelligence and skills in self-knowledge and self-expression.

In my own opinion, there is a significant relationship between music and brain development. There is an interrelationship between music and education because of the eight basic intelligences:  linguistic; logical-mathematical; spatial; bodily-kinesthetic; musical; interpersonal; intrapersonal; and naturalist.

Although, these intelligences are different from musical intelligences:emotional, spiritual and cultural than the other kinds of intelligences. Most importantly, he assumed that music could help some organize the way they think and work by helping them develop in other areas, such as math, language, and spatial reasoning. Gardner criticized school districts that sacrificed music in children’s education, calling them “arrogant and ignorant about the value of music education” (p. 142).

Essay 2-The Mozart Effect

Rauscher et al. (1993) used the term Mozart effect to describe the results of their study on the relationship between music and spatial task performance. It is based on the ear’s role in the development of movement, balance, language and pre-verbal communication as well as the integration of neurological responses stimulated by music The Mozart effect also refers to the way music is used to enhance the quality of life. For example, music helps children in obtaining good health, education, and creativity (Cjabris, 1999). 

Rauscher et al. (1997) gave a group of college students three 10-minute-long sets of standard IQ spatial reasoning tasks: listening to a Mozart sonata for two pianos, listening to a relaxation tape, and sitting through silence. The results showed that the individuals who listened to Mozart had a distinct advantage in spatial task performance. Steele et al (1999) noted that students performed better “on the abstract/spatial reasoning tests after listening to Mozart than after listening to either the relaxation tape or to nothing” (p. 2).

Although conditions differed significantly between music, silence, and relaxation, Shaw and his colleagues were careful to qualify the study results. Although spatial reasoning test scores rose as a result of listening to Mozart’s piano sonata in D major (K488), the effects were temporary. Jenkins (2001) noted that “the enhancing effect of the music condition is temporary, and does not extend beyond the 10-15 minute period during which subjects were engaged in each spatial task” (Rauscher et al., 1993, p. 2).

The authors posed several questions for further research: “Could varying the amount of listening time optimize the Mozart effect? Could listening to Mozart also enhance other intelligence measures such as short-term memory, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning? Would other kinds of music have an effect on IQ performance” (p. 2)?

Though the answers to these questions were unclear, the authors concluded that music lacking in complexity failed to enhance performance. They also concluded that the complexity of Mozart’s music was responsible for its enhancing effect. Rauscher et al. replicated and extended these findings in 1995. They used the same tasks used in their first experiment but extended the types of listening examples used. College students were divided into 3 groups: those exposed to silence, the same Mozart music used in the 1993 study, and a piece by Philip Glass. As before, the Mozart group showed a significant increase in spatial IQ scores.

Tomatis, a French physician, psychologist, and educator, researched the connection between early childhood development in the 1960s and the music of Mozart (Jenkins, 2001). College students listened to a Mozart sonata, then performed complicated visual tasks involving cutting and folding paper. However, there was no difference in the way these tasks were performed by either the students who listened to the sonata or the control groups who just relaxed before taking the test or listened to other kinds of music.

Schellenberg (2006) pointed out that the studies on music instruction insubstantial overall because researchers only tried to repeat and extend their findings. For example, no one knew exactly which kind of musical training produced results and which kinds did not, who benefited most from it, and how long any intellectual gains resulting from music training lasted.

In another study, Chabris (1999) reviewed previous studies and compared the effects of the Mozart recordings. Results revealed a statistically insignificant increase in the ability of individuals to complete tasks requiring spatial visualization skills and abstract reasoning. Chabris noted that “if listening to Mozart improves cognitive performance at all, it’s by improving overall cognitive arousal and concentration. It shouldn’t be viewed as an intellectual miracle drug” (p. 1).

Steele (2001) agreed with Chabris, by stating that “there is a problem with the concept of classical music as Gatorade for the brain” (p. 1). A number of other researchers (Crncec et al, 2006) supported the belief that classical music does not increase basic intelligence.

Rauscher, et l (1995) noted that because many researchers only measured the effect on general intelligence instead of on spatial-temporal abilities, they failed when they tried to repeat the original experiment.

In 1995, Rauscher et al. replicated this study and again found that spatial-temporal reasoning improved after listening to the Mozart Sonata. Though daily exposure to Mozart’s music produced daily increases in scores, this effect did not apply to all styles of music or to all areas of intelligence. For example, Phillip Glass’ minimalist music did not enhance spatial-temporal reasoning. Further, the students’ scores did not improve when they performed a short-term memory task after listening to Mozart.

Rauscher et al. (1999) concluded that “although the Mozart effect is intriguing and holds great promise for further explorations into the transfer of musical processing to other domains of reasoning, merely listening to music probably does not lead to lasting enhancement of spatial-temporal intelligence. Listening to music is a passive experience for most people, and does not require the involvement that actively creating music does” (p. 2).  This observation led researchers to suspect that actively creating music has greater benefits for spatial temporal intelligence than simply listening to it.

Combining separate elements of an object into a whole or arranging them in a specific order are spatial-temporal operations. They require successive steps, which are dependent upon previous steps. Spatial-logical operations also require recognition of similarities or differences among objects and are generally one-step processes. For example, a child who is asked to classify objects according to their color or shape would be performing a spatial-logical operation. The Rauscher et al. (1999) model predicted that music training may increase spatial-temporal task scores, but not necessarily spatial-logical tasks.

These studies did suggest casual relationships between music and spatial task performance. The authors concluded that music education was helpful for maximum cognitive development by demonstrating that music could improve the intellectual functioning of children.

Personal Reflection

In my own opinion, the study in Mozart effect is a new proof of music’s education and its importance. Since it is believed to development a child’s IQ, schools must offer music programs to help their students in a very substantial way. Music educators should work towards the inclusion of music education in the curriculum of public education. Also, the public’s perception of music education must be altered so that policymakers in education are forced to provide for conditions where music education may thrive.

Many educators and researchers posit that music should be a more central part of  the school curriculum in light of studies that demonstrate a relationship between music and intellectual growth. Also, tentative research findings in support of music education have shown that people believe that there is an essential value to learning about music. Diamond (1998) argued that learning to play an instrument could increase a child’s capacity for “voluntary attention” (p. 7), while Porter (1998) concluded that music can teach “discipline, care, concentration, and perseverance” (p. 7).

Music Learning and Memory for Music

When memory for a sequence of visually presented letters is tested, the marked recency effect that characterizes studies of the PAS system is absent. Nonetheless, clear evidence of phonological coding is found in the form of a marked effect of phonological similarity ( Schlkind et al, 2003). auditory input. Further evidence for the interaction between self-generated phonological codes and auditory input is, of course, offered by the irrelevant speech effect.

Performance is impaired by unwanted spoken material, with the crucial feature of the material being its phonological rather than its semantic characteristics, again suggesting that the interaction is occurring at a common phonological level ( Dowling, 1994). It should be pointed out at this stage, however, that the nature of the irrelevant sound is crucial. While speech in a foreign language is quite disruptive to performance, white noise is not, even when the intensity of the noise is pulsed so as to resemble the intensity envelope of the speech signal that has been shown to disrupt memory ( Dowling et al, 1995).

The fact that memory is more disrupted by vocal than by nonvocal music might seem to suggest that the system is essentially speech based. It is possible, however, that the greater disruption by speech reflects the nature of the primary task, namely remembering digits, a task that is likely to operate principally in terms of the spoken names of the digits.

It is entirely conceivable that a different primary task would lead to a different degree of disruption. One possibility then might be to look at studies investigating memory for environmental sounds. Unfortunately, the evidence in this area seems to be relatively sparse. Deutsch (2004) showed that their patient was better at remembering environmental sounds than spoken digits, but, unfortunately, it is possible that the task was done by first identifying the sounds and then remembering them semantically.

Personal Reflection

. Thinking of music memory as schematic is probably accurate for many of the interactions that both trained and untrained people have with music. However, recently I have become interested in the nature of representation when memory for music is essentially perfect. Whereas it appears that the majority of work in music cognition has examined short-term memory, I would like to examine longterm memory. By this I mean that I am interested in the way well-learned music is represented. People are able to remember a large repertory of music and retain it for many years.

What kinds of codes make this retention possible? Clearly, proposing verbal codes in the traditional sense is impractical when trying to understand memory for melody (as opposed to the lyrics in vocal music). Even if we assume that a small minority of musicians can encode tunes in terms of musical structure, motor commands, or musical notation, the successful retention of music by untrained people suggests the existence of other types of durable codes. The explication of those codes has been the goal of my current program of research



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Trainor, L., & Schmidt, L. (2003). Processing emotions induced by music. In I. Peretz, & R. Zatorre (Eds.) The cognitive neuroscience of music (pp. 310-324). New York: Oxford University Press.

Zatorre, R. (2003). Absolute pitch: A model for understanding the influence of genes and development on neural and cognitive function. Nature Neuroscience, 6 (7), pp. 692-695.


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