Study: musical study helps develop spatial reasoning

Posted on: December 7, 2011

In Monday’s (12/5) Miller-McCune, Tom Jacobs writes, “Can you mentally rotate a three-dimensional object, getting a clear sense of how it looks it from a variety of angles? It’s a specific cognitive skill that has been the subject of much study in recent years, since it’s a key component of processing spatial information. Professionals ranging from auto mechanics to brain surgeons rely on this ability. A newly published study suggests there may be a way to enhance this important skill, and it does not involve spending hours in front of a computer screen. … Two German researchers report student musicians and athletes performed better at a standard mental-rotation task than a group of their peers. Moreover, for musicians, the much-discussed gender gap in this important arena disappeared, with women catching up to men. Stefanie Pietsch and Petra Jansen of the University of Regensburg Institute of Sport Science report their findings in the journal Learning and Individual Differences. … The researchers speculate that musicians learn to think in terms of spatial relationships “because notes are coded in terms of their spatial positions.” … While this one small study is hardly conclusive, it provides more evidence of the drawbacks of a basics-only approach to education.”

Posted December 7, 2011