Music, piano
In the study, learning music in early childhood was associated with improved executive functioning in rest of the life.Dana/Flickr

Taking music lessons early in life can benefit the brain, findings from a new study show.

In the study, learning music in early childhood was associated with improved executive functioning for rest of one's life. The findings are important as executive functions are the essential cognitive processes needed for academic success including planning, reasoning, organizing and ability to remember things.

"Since executive functioning is a strong predictor of academic achievement, even more than IQ, we think our findings have strong educational implications," study senior investigator Dr Nadine Gaab, of the Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience at Boston Children's Hospital, said in a news release. "While many schools are cutting music programs and spending more and more time on test preparation, our findings suggest that musical training may actually help to set up children for a better academic future."

The study included 27 children, aged between nine and 12, and 30 adults. Of the total children, 15 were musically trained. All the children, on an average, started their classes by age 6 and had played an instrument for more than five years, spending more than three hours every week. Among the adults, 15 were professional musicians.

During the study, researchers measured IQ, cognitive abilities of the participants and also scanned children's brains with functional MRI imaging (fMRI). Both adults and children from the music group showed improved executive functioning and brain scans showed improved functioning of particular areas of the prefrontal cortex (the front portion of brain) in musically trained children.

Researchers hoped that their findings will help develop better interventions for certain disorders found commonly in children. "Our results may also have implications for children and adults who are struggling with executive functioning, such as children with Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder (ADHD) or [the] elderly," Dr Gaab, explained. "Future studies have to determine whether music may be utilized as a therapeutic intervention tools for these children and adults."

Results of the study have been reported in the online edition of PLOS ONE.

Musical training's role in brain development is well-known. In November last year researchers reported unlimited benefits associated with learning music in early childhood. Taking music lessons for long periods brings changes in the structure and function of the brain and influences the brains' ability to process sensory information, researchers said .

Here are some other research-proven benefits of Music:

  • Relieves physical pain
  • Prevents age -related hearing loss
  • Helps improve health of premature babies
  • Helps ADHD children concentrate better
  • Enhances IQ
  • Helps improve language development
  • Improves verbal memory
  • Enhances motor skills