Learning with music can change brain structure

Using music to learn a physical task develops an important part of the brain, according to research by the University of Edinburgh.

The research, published in Brain & Cognition and reported by the BBC, found that people who practised a basic movement to music showed "increased structural connectivity" between the regions of the brain that process sound and control movement. The study showed brain wiring enables cells to communicate with each other. The study could help research into rehabilitation for patients who have lost some movement control. Dr Katie Overy, who led the research team, said: "The study suggests that music makes a key difference. We have long known that music encourages people to move. "This study provides the first experimental evidence that adding musical cues to learning new motor tasks can lead to changes in white matter structure in the brain." The study split right-handed volunteers into two groups. Both groups had to learn a new task with their left hand but only one group had musical cues. After four weeks the volunteers performed equally well at learning sequences but, using MRI scans, the study found the music group showed "a significant increase" in structural connectivity on the right side of the brain while the non-music group showed no change. It’s hoped future research will determine whether music can help with special kinds of motor rehabilitation programmes, such as after a stroke. 
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