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Musical training may enhance language processing

24th December, 2014 I by Translation Excellence

Recent studies have shown a positive link between a person’s ability to keep time with a musical rhythm and their ability to respond to sounds. More than 100 teenagers in Chicago and its surroundings were asked to listen to a metronome and tap their finger along with it. Accuracy was calculated on how closely the tap of a subject’s finger matched the sound of the metronome. Later, the researchers used an EEG to record brain waves from a sound processing section of the brain while the subjects listened to a single syllable being repeated periodically over 30 minutes. Researchers noted how many times the nerve cells in that region of the brain responded to the sound. They found that the more accurate the subjects were at tapping their finger to the beat, the more consistent their brain reaction to the sound was.

Past studies have also shown links between keeping musical time and reading ability, as well as reading and brain response to sound, meaning there is a common basis for all of these associations. Given that most, if not all, languages have a general rhythmic flow, this leads Professor Nina Kraus- the leader of the study- to believe that musical training can help improve listening comprehension, and reading skills. Further studies are being performed to address these theories, and are funded by the National Science Foundation.

2 responses to “Musical training may enhance language processing”

  1. Haydée Menna says:

    People who have an ear for music find it easier to do listening comprehension and reading. For example, if you have to learn how to pronounce the sounds and to study the intonation used in a foreign language, you will find it more difficult if you do not have an ear for music, because in that case, you will have to find a different way to register sounds and intonation in your brain.

  2. P Diane Schneider says:

    I agree. I have also seen that learning songs in the target language helps with pronunciation as well as syntax.

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