Most stories about how music makes people, especially kids, smarter are apocryphal or anectdotal, at best.
New research, though, suggests that musicians are actually able to hear things that non-musicians miss, are able to filter useful sounds out of noise and are able to unconsciously process sound in ways that non-musicians have to consciously think about.
These types of differences can create advantages for musicians, according to researchers at the Auditory Neuroscience Lab at Northwestern University in Illinois.
For example, children with musical training are more likely to intelligibly hear the voice of a teacher, above the noises of a classroom.
Musicians can perform tasks like this without thinking, according to the researchers, because their brains are trained to recognize sound patterns selectively, even as background noise goes up.
Researcher Nina Kraus compares this to a person that's learned to drive a manual transmission.
"When you first learn to drive a car, you have to think about the stick shift, the clutch, all the different parts," explains Kraus. "But once you know, your body knows how to drive almost automatically."
Because of these benefits, researchers recommend that musical training should be universally encouraged.
What do you think? Do you think making music can make you smarter?
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