jump to navigation

Parents: Will Listening to Mozart Ten Minutes a Day Make Your Child Smarter? May 23, 2007

Posted by Dr. Rohn Kessler in 9-5-4, education, fetus, infant, music, neurogenesis, neuroscience, parenting, parents, science.
add a comment

Years ago research showed that students who listened to music improved their performance on some visual thinking tasks given right after they heard the music. Many jumped on the bandwagon, but it turns out the research design was flawed. One group listened to music and the control group did nothing. In fact, when children in the control were given any mental stimulation at all, there was no advantage for music listening.

The key is looking at the long-term and not the short-term effects of music listening. 

Our brains are hardwired for music.

In fact, there are long term benefits of listening to music, notes Dan Levitin in This is Your Brain on Music.

“Music listening enhances or changes certain neural circuits, including the density of dendritic connections in the primary auditory cortex…The front portion of the corpus callosum—the mass of fibers connecting the two cerebral hemispheres—is significantly larger in musicians than nonmusicians, and particularly for musicians who began their training early…Musicians tend to have larger cerebellums than nonmusicians, and an increased concentration of grey matter…responsible for information processing.” 

What does do these structural changes in the brain mean to you, the parent? Probably not much.

 

But what if musical preferences are actually influenced by what the fetus hears in the womb? Research indicates this is so. What if two-year olds begin showing a preference for the music of their culture? Research indicates this is so. What if the teenage years (around age 14) are the turning point for music preferences? Research also confirms this.

The bottom line is that the music we listen to in our early years often has the greatest effect on us and lays the foundation for all or most of our later music development.

 

I suggest parents pay much closer attention to the music they listen to during pregnancy and continue paying attention through during their children’s development through infancy, childhood and adolescence.

Levitin asserts that we are all more musically equipped than we think because our brains are hardwired for music. It is an obsession at the heart of human nature, perhaps even more fundamental than language.

Ideally, then, parents will not only listen to uplifting, meaningful music that moves them and encourage their children to do the same, but they will also play a musical instrument, dance and sing.

Dr. Rohn Kessler, Ed. D.

Listen Up Newlyweds and Mothers: Inside the Womb, the Fetus Hears Music May 21, 2007

Posted by Dr. Rohn Kessler in auditory, children, fetus, infant, music, neurogenesis, neuroscience, parenting, parents.
add a comment

The ears of a fetus are fully functional at twenty weeks, but an infant’s brain takes months or years to be fully functional.
Inside the womb the fetus hears sounds like the heartbeat of its mother.

A year after they are born, children recognize and prefer music they were exposed to in the womb.

According to Dr. Livitin, author of This is Your Brain on Music, the process goes something like this:

“You wake up from a deep sleep and open your eyes. The distant regular beating at the periphery of your hearing is still there. You rub your eyes with your hands, but you can’t make out any shapes of forms. Time passes, but how long? Half and hour? One hour?

“Then you hear a different but recognizable sound—an amorphous, moving, wiggly sound with fast beating, a pounding that you can feel in your feet. The sounds start and stop without definition. Gradually building up and dying down, they weave together with no clear beginnings or endings.

“These familiar sounds are comforting, you’ve heard them before. As you listen, you have a vague notion of what will come next, and it does, even as the sounds remain remote and muddled, as though you’re listening underwater.”

A fetus also hears music. A year after they are born, children recognize and prefer music they were exposed to in the womb.

Moreover, young infants seem to prefer fast, upbeat music to slow music.

How do we know this? In one experiment, mothers repeatedly played a certain piece of music (classical, reggae, Top 40 or world beat) during the last 3 months of their pregnancy. After birth, the mothers did not play this particular music for a year. At one year, the infants listened to both the music they heard in the womb and a novel piece of music in two different speakers. They looked longer at the speaker that was playing the music they heard in the womb than the other music.
Moreover, young infants seem to prefer fast, upbeat music to slow music.

Mothers take note: the music you listen to while pregnant does impact your child. So does the music you listen to during years one and two. What happens then?

That’s another story.

Dr. Rohn Kessler, Ed. D.