Study: Rhythm linked to improvements in how babies learn language

Posted on: May 4, 2016

“Music educators cheered after the long-overdue rewrite of the federal education law”—the Every Student Succeeds Act—“which passed last year, specified that music and art are part of a ‘well-rounded education’—not luxuries to be ditched whenever budgets get tight,” writes John Higgins in Friday’s (4/29) Seattle Times. “While music has value all by itself, researchers have long noticed that musicians also tend to be better at learning languages and show other enhanced reading and math abilities…. A new study from the University of Washington shows that rhythm is an important bridge between music and speech as early as nine months of age. Researchers randomly placed babies into two groups…. In one group, researchers played recordings of songs with a waltz rhythm and showed the parents how to help their babies tap out that 1-2-3 beat…. In the other group, children played with typical toys and no music. The babies in the music group were better able to detect random mistakes in that rhythm…. They also showed a stronger brain response to disruptions in the rhythm of invented, two-syllable words…. A 2014 study … found that the ability of six-year-old children to perceive rhythm was strongly linked to grammar skills.”

Posted May 4, 2016