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Music Helps Babies Learn Speech

Babies who engage in “musical play”  may learn  language skills much better a recent study concludes.

Researchers tested two groups of nine-month-old babies. One group played with toys and trucks and another group practiced banging out rhythms on drums during a series of play sessions.

They found that the “musical” group showed more brain activity in areas  involved with detecting patterns that are part of learning language.

“The studies suggested  that the n young babies that experienced “a rhythmic pattern” similar in music can also improve the ability to detect and make  the  rhythmic patterns in speech,” said lead author Christina Zhao, a postdoctoral researcher the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences.

“This means that early, engaging musical experiences can have a more global effect on cognitive skills” she said,

The study consisted of 39 babies and their parents, who took part in a dozen 15-minute play sessions over the course of a month. Twenty of the babies listened to recorded children’s music with their parents and helped pound out drum beats to music that included waltzes, rhythms and tunes like “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”.

The other 19 babies played that used toys and blocks, but without music.

Babies in the music group showed stronger brain responses in both the auditory and the brain areas involved in attention and detecting patterns and is an important cognitive skill, with  long-lasting effects on learning,”

Patricia Kuhl, co-director of the program, added “Unfortunately, schools across the nation are decreasing music experiences for our children, saying they are too expensive”.

“The potential to boost broader cognitive skills that enhance children‘s abilities to detect, expect and react quickly is highly relevant in today’s complex world,” she added.