As parents, we often wonder how much influence music has on our babies’ lives. If your family is not particularly musical, that question may not even come to mind. But according to this University of Washington study, music plays a tremendous role in babies’ speech and brain development.
In this study, 39 babies attended a dozen of 15-minute play sessions, where half of them listened to music and had exposure to musical instruments, while the other half were a control group. Both groups played with the same toys and had the same surroundings, the key difference was in whether the researcher taught the baby to tap out musical beats or not. After the sessions were complete, researchers used MEG technology (magnetocephalography) to measure the precise location and timing of brain activity. They found that children who listened to music had stronger brain responses. This suggests that listening to music during play sessions has improved the babies’ abilities to control attention and detect patterns in sounds. .
This study is an reminder that music is an important factor in our children’s cognitive development and that learning is not only done through school assignments and tests. As stated in the study, “this research reminds us that the effects of engaging in music go beyond music itself. Music experience has the potential to boost broader cognitive skills that enhance children’s abilities to detect, expect and react quickly to patterns in the world, which is highly relevant in today’s complex world.”