Reading and Music Ability Linked, New Study Shows

Musicality and reading ability are linked, report scientists in a recent neuroscience study.

If I had a do-over, I might like to have studied neuroscience. The brain is an amazingly complex and marvelous wonderland. So much has been discovered about how it functions, and yet there is so much more to explore and understand.

 That’s why the ANI article “Musical Ability Biologically Linked to Reading Ability” caught my eye. It detailed a study published recently in BioMed Central’s Behavioral and Brain Functions journal, which correlated reading proficiency and musical skill.

Researchers from Northwestern University’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory in Chicago tested children’s ability to hear and remember words. These findings were compared to reading ability and musical aptitude.

“Both musical ability and literacy correlated with enhanced electrical signals within the auditory brainstem,” said research team leader Dr. Nina Kraus*. “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.”

Children in the study listened to a sequence of numbers and then were asked to repeat them in reverse order. Electrical activity in their brains was measured during this auditory testing. Researchers found that “poor readers” had reduced brainwave response to auditory stimulation as compared to “good readers.” Musical rhythm aptitude appeared to reflect these findings as well.

I’m sure these biological findings come as no surprise to Big Universe blogger Elizabeth Peterson, who is an advocate for arts integration in the classroom. Her Oct. 12th post, “The Connections Between Music and Reading,” does a good job of explaining how motivating music can be to an emerging reader. You can also read about Active Listening Snack Time in her post “Using Music to Help Teach Visualization Strategies.” She is the author of the book “Inspired by Listening.”

Other Articles You May Like:

Big Universe Books for the Budding Neuroscientist

  • The Brain, (Teacher Created Materials Publishing), Interest Age: 6-12.
  • The Nervous System, (Bellwether Publishing) Interest Age: 9-12.

 Note: Dr. Nina Kraus is a Northwestern University professor of neurobiology, physiology and otolaryngology. She investigates the neurobiology underlying speech and music perception and learning-associated brain plasticity. Dr. Kraus studies normal listeners throughout the lifespan, clinical populations (poor readers, autism, hearing loss), musicians and animal models. Her method of assessing the brain’s encoding of sounds has been adapted as BioMARK (biological marker of auditory processing), a commercial product that helps educators and clinicians better diagnose learning disabilities.

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