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Music Training Causes Long-Term Enhancement of Preschool Children's Spatial-Temporal Reasoning

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Abstract

Predictions from a structured cortical model led us to test the hypothesis that music training enhances young children's spatial-temporal reasoning. Seventy-eight preschool children participated in this study. Thirty-four children received private piano keyboard lessons, 20 children received private computer lessons, and 24 children provided other controls. Four standard, age-calibrated, spatial reasoning tests were given before and after training; one test assessed spatial-temporal reasoning and three tests assessed spatial recognition. Significant improvement on the spatial-temporal test was found for the keyboard group only. No group improved significantly on the spatial recognition tests. The magnitude of the spatial-temporal improvement from keyboard training was greater than one standard deviation of the standardized test and lasted at least one day, a duration traditionally classified as long term. This represents an increase in time by a factor of over 100 compared to a previous study in which listening to a Mozart piano sonata primed spatial-temporal reasoning in college students. This suggests that music training produces long-term modifications in underlying neural circuitry in regions not primarily concerned with music and might be investigated using EEG. We propose that an improvement of the magnitude reported may enhance the learning of standard curricula, such as mathematics and science, that draw heavily upon spatial-temporal reasoning.
... The results of the analyses showed that musically trained group outperformed their untrained counterpart in verbal and non-verbal reasoning. It should be noted that unlike Rauscher et al. (1997) study, discussed in greater detail in the ensuing paragraph, Forgeard et al. (2008) study did not find music training to improve spatial ability. Nor was there strong evidence for improvement in mathematics achievement in musically trained children. ...
... Although from Forgeard et al. (2008) study, it appears as though the effects of music training has a limited transferability to other cognitive domains (in this study, it is verbal and nonverbal reasoning, but not spatial and mathematics), and the fact that the study was correlational by design and hence cannot be used as evidence for a causal relationship, Rauscher et al. (1997) study, discussed in greater detail in the ensuing paragraph, is experimental by design and showed a causal relationship between music training and enhanced spatial-temporal reasoning in young children. Similarly, a few other studies are suggestive of a positive association between music training and enhanced math-related skills as well (see Cheek and Smith, 1999;Ribeiro and Santos, 2017;Rodriguez et al., 2019). ...
... The results showed a reduction in math anxiety, as well as significant improvements in performance on numerical cognition and working memory tests after the training. Another experimental study that enables a causal inference of transfer of music training to another cognitive domain (spatial cognition) to be drawn comes from Rauscher et al. (1997) study. Rauscher et al. (1997) investigated the impact of music training on spatial recognition and spatial-temporal reasoning in preschool children who enrolled in keyboard lessons. ...
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In this mini-review, the genetic basis of music aptitude and the effects of music training are discussed. The review indicates that regardless of levels of innate ability, experience-induced neuroplasticity can occur as a result of music training. When that happens, it can be expressed as functional or structural brain changes. These changes are often accompanied by improvement in performance in tasks involving auditory analysis. Specifically, music training effects can transfer to a closely related cognitive domain such as auditory processing (near transfer). Music training can also affect more distantly related cognitive domains such as spatial and linguistic domains. Lastly, music training can affect general intelligence ("g") (far transfer). Music training can mold behavioral brain development and confers cognitive benefits beyond music.
... Music training has been associated with superior cognitive performance in experimental studies (Schellenberg 2001).The range of cognitive tests with reasonable evidence exists includes mathematics (Cheek & Smith, 1999;Gardiner, Fox, Knowles, & Jeffrey, 1996), literacy (Gromko, 2005;Standley & Hughes,1997); spatial-temporal performance (Bilhartz, Bruhn, & Olson, 2000;Rauscher et al., 1997) and general intelligence (Schellenberg 2004). Schellenberg claimed that music training includes long periods of focused attention, reading, memorizing and transformation of musical passages so that routine practice and mastery of technical skills are also important. ...
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Instrumental music is one of the extra-curricular activities that students may join after school hours to acquire more music experience. There is limited number of studies in Hong Kong investigating the effect of group instrumental music training on primary school children. The impact of school-based music training on both academic and psychological issue is not well understood. This research aims at revealing the reasons that make students participate in these extra-curricular music activities, the benefits that students perceive in the music activities and how these music activities affect their aspiration in learning. This research focuses to investigate deeply in one context of a primary school in Hong Kong of the real life experience of students aged 9-12 about the above issue. This research indicates the factors motivating students to participate in music activities which are mainly parental, family and peer influence. Enjoying musical activities, listening to music, attending concerts, playing in music groups have demonstrated positive effects on the students. The support of parents, family, peers and self-beliefs are also important in sustaining students in their musical journey. In the research, students have reported their beliefs that music participation imparts some extra musical benefits. Interviews with parents and students indicate the benefits student perceived in the music participation include gaining love and enjoyment in music, developing social skills of teamwork, sense of belonging, communication, cooperation, confidence and satisfaction in their music playing with friends. Concentration, self-discipline, self-motivation, self-accomplishment, listening and memory skills are enhanced which help in other areas of learning. In addition, the research reveals that music makes students feel relaxed and releases their pressure from the heavy-loaded school work.
... Similarly, Ho, Cheung, and Chan (2003) found that children with music training demonstrated better verbal but not visual memory than did their counterparts without such training. By contrast, Rauscher and colleagues established a close relationship between music and visuospatial organisation, revealing that the earlier the musical exposure, the more stable the visuospatial development in the long term (Rauscher et al. 1997;Rauscher and Zupan 2000). Music training is more effective if the training is proposed in preschool and elementary school (Orsmond and Miller 1999;Hetland 2000b;Conway, Pisoni, and Kronenberger 2009). ...
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The benefits of musical play in cognitive development have recently received an upsurge of interest in the field of early childhood music education research. This study examines the positive learning transfer from a musical play early-learning system® to cognitive development. Specifically, we investigated the effects of early musically enriched multicultural play activities on linguistic and spatial skills once the children have reached school age. Four subtests were selected from the Wechsler’s Preschool and Primary Intelligence Scale to assess linguistic and spatial skills. A group of twenty children aged between 50 and 82 months who had been exposed daily to a musical play platform over a period of 24 months (4 or 5 days a week, 45min/day) in daycare centres was selected and compared to a matched group of twenty children aged between 48 and 79 months who had not been exposed to this programme. Results showed that the musical play group obtained significantly higher scores than the non- musical play group in linguistic but not in spatial skills, regardless of parental SES. Linear regression analysis revealed that spatial skills predicted linguistic skills in the musical play group. A broader implementation of this musical play early- learning system® in more daycare settings is suggested.
... Many studies showed that playing music improve reading and verbal skills through improving concentration (Levitin, 2005). Also, the famous "Mozart effect" researchers (Rauscher, 1997) demonstrated that music is a way of increasing the ability to solve spatial reasoning tasks, which are crucial for higher brain functions like complex Mathematics, chess and science. ...
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The importance of music for the development of society and the individual has been proved over time in a variety of educational and cultural situations. The cortical representations of musical functions (such as melody, harmony, absolute pitch, timbre, rhythm, music memory, and music emotions) offer new perspectives on the implications that musical training has on the development of the brain. Multiple studies have showed that musicians exhibit hyper-development of certain areas of their brains and obtain better results when motor skills, visual tasks and music related processing abilities were tested.
... Subsequently, we assessed whether the observed heterogeneity could be due to the presence of outliers. Three outliers (Rauscher et al., 1997;Rauscher & Zupan, 2000;Roden, Könen, et al., 2014) were detected, as they contributed with implausibly large effect sizes (some of them larger than g Δ = 1). Interestingly, these three studies did not randomly assign participants to groups and had small samples, factors that might have contributed to their outcomes. ...
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