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Music Training Makes You A Better Listener


The study, which will appear in the April issue of Nature Neuroscience, is the first to provide concrete evidence that playing a musical instrument significantly enhances the brainstem's sensitivity to speech sounds. This finding has broad implications because it applies to sound encoding skills involved not only in music but also in language.

The findings indicate that experience with music at a young age in effect can "fine-tune" the brain's auditory system. "Increasing music experience appears to benefit all children -- whether musically exceptional or not -- in a wide range of learning activities," says Nina Kraus, director of Northwestern's Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory and senior author of the study.


The research by co-authors Wong, Kraus, Erika Skoe, Nicole Russo and Tasha Dees represents a new way of defining the relationship between the brainstem -- a lower order brain structure thought to be unchangeable and uninvolved in complex processing -- and the neocortex, a higher order brain structure associated with music, language and other complex processing.

The findings also are consistent with studies by Kraus and her research team that have revealed anomalies in brainstem sound encoding in some children with learning disabilities which can be improved by auditory training.

Or you could all just learn some Mandarin. Cantonese might be better. It's got twice as many tonal sounds. Too bad Mandarin's the official language.

By min | March 13, 2007, 2:32 PM | Music & Science


Wait. Are you suggesting that chinese people are good listeners? I'm only really familiar with one chinese family but i wouldn't list 'listening' in their strengths category.

To the main point of the article, you have to weigh these benefits against the fact that listening to all this high volume pop music makes you deaf.

actually, they do their best to drown out everyone else so that they can only hear the sound of their own voices. they must suspect that if they actually heard what someone else said, their brains would force them to comprehend it.

so, really, it is true. they're just really good at only listening to themselves.

oh god... this'll just make more yuppies go out and buy those pregnancy-headphone-thingies.