According to a new study from the Radiological Society of North America, "taking music lessons increases brain fiber connections in children." In particular, these fiber connections increased in a part of the brain in which a decrease in connections has been linked to autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
"It's been known that musical instruction benefits children with these disorders," said Pilar Dies-Suarez, M.D., chief radiologist at the Hospital Infantil de México Federico Gómez in Mexico City, "but this study has given us a better understanding of exactly how the brain changes and where these new fiber connections are occurring."
She added, "Experiencing music at an early age can contribute to better brain development, optimizing the creation and establishment of neural networks, and stimulating the existing brain tracts."
In the study, scientists monitored 23 children aged between five and six, assessing them before and after nine months of music lessons. The panel noted increases in fiber connections in a part of the brain known as the minor forceps. They hope their findings can be used in developing interventions directed at young people with ADHD and autism.
"When a child receives musical instruction, their brains are asked to complete certain tasks," Dr. Dies-Suarez said. "These tasks involve hearing, motor, cognition, emotion and social skills, which seem to activate these different brain areas. These results may have occurred because of the need to create more connections between the two hemispheres of the brain."