Tuesday, October 16, 2012

5 Year Project by Antonio Damasio to Look at Music and Child Brain Development

Famed neuroscientist Antonio Damasio and associates at USC will follow children for 5 years -- during the period between roughly the ages of 6 years old up to 12 years old -- in order to qualify and quantify the effects of high intensity music training on brain development.

Childhood music training has been linked to superior language skills, better math skills, and enhanced creativity. The study described in the article below should add significant information in relationship to those questions.
Researchers at USC Brain and Creativity Institute will explore the effects of intense music training on cognitive development...The five-year research project, Effects of Early Childhood Musical Training on Brain and Cognitive Development, will offer USC researchers an important opportunity to provide new insights and add rigorous data to an emerging discussion about the role of early music engagement in learning and brain function.

Starting when the children are between the age of 6 and 7, to ages 11 and 12, the researchers will use standard psychological assessments and advanced brain imaging techniques to track brain, emotional and social development. The group of children involved in the YOLA at HOLA program will be compared to a control group of children matched in age, socio-economic status and cognitive abilities, but with no musical training.

All children will be followed for five consecutive years, providing a rare chance for researchers to discover the effects of musical training on emotional, social and cognitive aspects of development as they actually occur, rather than inferring later-life effects. The USC Brain and Creativity Institute team began working with YOLA at HOLA students in September 2012. _NeuroscienceNews
The young human brain passes through developmental windows -- or critical periods of development -- when specific brain plasticity leading to the ability to learn particular skills becomes optimal. After these windows for specific cognitive skills are closed, it is more difficult for the child to develop those skills to a mastery level.

This is true not only for musical skills, but for foreign language skills -- and probably for some cognitive skills that lead to later mastery of some forms of higher mathematics.

The early and middle childhood years are quite precious in terms of fortifying the child's brain for meeting the difficult challenges he will meet in the future. Modern societies typically squander these early years -- despite what is already known about critical windows of development.

The truly explosive knowledge regarding developmental windows of opportunity is likely yet to be discovered.

No comments: