Learning to play an instrument could improve attention and working memory in children

A team of researchers released their findings in Frontiers in Neuroscience showing how learning to play an instrument may improve certain brain functions in children.

According to the study, children who learn to play at least one instrument experience an improvement in attention and memory recall.

“Attention and working memory (WM) are core components of executive functions, and they can be enhanced by training. One activity that has shown to improve executive functions is musical training, but the brain networks underlying these improvements are not well known,” the findings state.

“We aimed to identify, using functional MRI (fMRI), these networks in children who regularly learn and play a musical instrument.”

For the study, the participants, aged 10 to 13, of both genders, were asked to complete tasks involving attention and working memory. During their tasks, the research team measured their brain activity using fMRI.

“Our most important finding is that two different mechanisms seem to underlie the better performance of musically trained children in the attention and WM memory task,” said Leonie Kausel, the study’s lead author, in a news release.

“One that supports more domain-general attention mechanisms and another that supports more domain-specific auditory encoding mechanisms.”

“Our results elucidate the neural dynamics that underlie improved bimodal attention and WM of musically trained children and contribute new knowledge to this model of brain plasticity,” the findings concluded.

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