The largest study of its kind has shown a link between musical training and brain development.
The study was published by the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and the authors analysed brain scans of 232 children aged 6-18.
The authors found that playing music altered the behaviour-regulating and motor areas of the brain.
Previous studies had shown a correlation between thickening and thinning of the cortex in specific places and mental health problems in children, such as anxiety, depression and attention problems.
In this study, music practice was found to influence the thickness of the area of the cortex associated with “executive functioning, including working memory, attentional control, as well as organization and planning for the future.”
The study supports The Vermont Family Based Approach, a model which was created by James Hudziak, who is the lead author of this study.
He said: “Music is a critical component in my model”. He has also hypothesised that a violin might be more effective than medication in helping a child with a psychological disorder.
The authors of the study wrote: “[These] statistics, when taken in the context of our present neuroimaging results underscore the vital importance of finding new and innovative ways to make music training more widely available to youths, beginning in childhood.”
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