So you know how some guy made the alphabet into a song? Well, that guy’s a genius. You know how your mom used to make that history lesson into a song for you? She’s a genius. And you know how you made the chemical elements into a song, as well? Yeah, yeah, you’re smart, too. Turns out, scientists think music actually helps babies learn better and faster!
A study in the Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Science, a team of researchers in the University of Washington studied the effect of music on babies’ learning abilities. They formed 2 groups of 9 month old babies. One group got 12 sessions of 15 minutes each where music was used to teach the babies basic words, and the other group, which was the control, same number of sessions was given but with no music; instead only other proven learning aids like body movements were used.
According to NBC News, the babies that learned through music showed increased brain activity. The babies’ brains were monitored with real time brain scans, a method called magnetoencephalography. This method would aid babies in detecting and making predictions about rhythmic patterns, similar to musical pattern, but in linguistics and in speech.
After that, the babies were put to a test. The scientists played music but occasionally missed a beat, and ran a pattern of nonsense words, also occasionally missing a beat. The babies that learned through music recognized the errors, implying that their brains have learned how to detect patterns in music and forecast them in languages. Furthermore, the babies were taught waltz rhythms, which are considered quite hard to learn. The tempo of ¾ is not normal, especially for babies, as it is very different from human tones.
For a very long time, scientists have been curious about how music taps into human instincts and seems to be a universal language. And this study is a very important step towards understand how important music actually is to us.