"Music education is exercise for the brain" - Anita Collins, PhD in Neuroscience and Music Education
In the TEDx video below, Anita Collins shares how learning music influences brain development and why it is essential for children birth to 7 years of age.
She begins by saying, "What if there was one activity that could improve our cognitive function, help our memory systems to work, help us to learn language, help us to moderate our emotions, help us to solve complex problems, and help our brains to be healthier later in life?"
This one activity is music education and is most beneficial to undertake before the age of 7.
For her PhD study, Collins wanted to find out how music affected brain development. She found that musicians' brains looked different from non musicians' brains. Neuroscientists used FMRI machines to watch in real time how music affected different parts of the brain. They saw multiple parts of the brain light up at the same time and discovered that music education stimulates three parts of the brain simultaneously: Motor, Visual, and Auditory. Music also allows both hemispheres of the brain to work together.
They found musicians have higher executive function, have higher memory systems, and are better at solving problems. With two decades of research, the neuroscientists found that music education raises general cognitive capacity and helps us to feel comfortable with learning.
In one study using infants 1 - 3 days old, it was discovered that the babies were using their music processing networks to understand their mother's language. They were literally hearing music in their mother's voices. At birth we need our music processing to understand language.
In another study, comparing musicians with non musicians, they found that those musicians that studied music before the age of 7, had an IQ of 7 1/2 points higher on average than non musicians.
Neuroscientists have found that music education impacts everyone that takes it. We are all born with our brains wired for music. Music education can help bridge the gap for kids that are behind, possibly due to their environment. It can help children with ADHD, and other learning issues. Think about how our society might change if we can raise the cognitive capacity of an entire generation?