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Doctor Blog--Music and It's Impact on the Human Brain

Posted Jul 07 2008 7:12pm

Music is everywhere.  It is arguably the only universal language.  It

crosses all verbal, age, religious, cultural barriers.  Music has a profound

effect on humans and learning music is a value that every parent

should encourage for their children.  To further educate my readers

about the importance of music, I've put together a summary in this

entry that can outline why music is so important and how it can be

used as a tool for education.

What is music?  It is alanguage.-- aform of communication.

Music has a language (tonal) component as well as a mathematical

(rhythmic) component. 

Music reaches human brains through the ears.  Auditory signals are

routed to the brainstem, then to the thalamus, and finally to the

auditory cortex in the temporal lobes on both sides of the brain.

However, research indicates that processing and learning music

probably affectsmany other parts of the brain (presumably because

it is such a complex activity).

For a moredetailed explanation of the auditory system, click on:

For a detailedlecture on YouTubeabout the auditory system, click on:

"The Mozart Effect" is a theory that states that spatial reasoning

improves after listening to Mozart's music.  The original experiment

was done in1993 by Rauscher and Shaw from University of California

at Irvine.

Unfortunately,other researchers have tried to replicate the experiment

and have found no such effect.

Rauscher and Shaw didanother experiment in 1997 comparing children

who received keyboard lessons with those receiving voice lessons,

computer lessons, and no lessons.  They found improvement in

spatial-temporal reasoning among the children who took keyboard

lessons only.

                      Sheet Music

A Canadian program created by the Royal Conservatory of Music,

(Learning Through the Arts or LTTA) followed elementary children

for 3 years.  It incorporated art, music, drama, and dance into regular

elementary school science and math curriculum.  This program reported

that math scores rose significantly among those students who were

included in the program compared to students attending schools

where the program is not used.

Many articles have been written about music, its effect on the brain,

and how music affects us from birth to adulthood.

In an upcoming entry,  I'll include an interview with a lifelong music

educator who has instructed small children through adults in the

language of music.  We will get a view of her perspective on the

role that music can play in a person's life.


For a good summary of the research and conclusions go to:




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