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Musical Skills Tied to Reading Proficiency

Musical Skills Tied to Reading Proficiency New research suggests musical practice and learning to recognize rhythms may help improve literacy: The ability to hear and remember instructions — a necessary part of musical ability — is critical for childhood reading skills.

In a new study, found in the journal Behavioral and Brain Functions, researchers provide a biological basis for how auditory working memory and musical aptitude are intrinsically related to reading ability.

Investigators from the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University tested children on their ability to read and to recognize words. Then they compared a child’s proficiency to the extent of their auditory working memory (remembering a sequence of numbers and then being able to quote them in reverse), and musical aptitude (both melody and rhythm).

Additionally, the electrical activity within the children’s brains was also measured as auditory brainstem responses to rhythmic, or random, sounds based on speech.

Nina Kraus, Ph.D., and her team found that poor readers had reduced neural responses (auditory brainstem activity) to rhythmic rather than random sounds. Furthermore, researchers discovered the ability to hear acoustic sounds correlated with reading ability as well as musical aptitude.

The musical ability test, specifically the rhythm aspect, was also related to reading ability. Similarly a good score on the auditory working memory related to better reading and to the rhythm aspect of musical ability.

Kraus explained, “Both musical ability and literacy correlated with enhanced electrical signals within the auditory brainstem.

“Structural equation modeling of the data revealed that music skill, together with how the nervous system responds to regularities in auditory input and auditory memory/attention accounts for about 40 percent of the difference in reading ability between children.

“These results add weight to the argument that music and reading are related via common neural and cognitive mechanisms and suggests a mechanism for the improvements in literacy seen with musical training.”

Source: Biomed Central

Musical Skills Tied to Reading Proficiency

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Musical Skills Tied to Reading Proficiency. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 15, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2011/10/19/musical-skills-tied-to-reading-proficiency/30490.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.