Clément François: “We must promote music in children”

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Last October 5th took place in the University of Barcelona (Bellvitge Campus) the conference “Musical practice for the development of speech segmentation abilities, behavioural and electrophysiological evidences”, by PhD. Clément François, researcher of the Institut de Neurosciences de la Méditerranée CNRS and Aux-Marseille Universities (France). The Cognition and Brain plasticity group, from the UB and IDIBELL, organised this conference.

Introduction: functional plasticity in the auditory system

The group lead by Dr. François has compared it by sound analysis, with a sound recognition, identification and categorisation, building a temporal structure to hold on sounds.

Overlapping resources it had been compared words, melodies and sung versus noise. The musical expertise influences brain anatomy, and musical practice influences structural connectivity. For example, children after years of musical training have increased the connectivity of the different areas in the brain. In general, the French researchers have found that the musicians are more sensitive than non-musicians.

Testing phase

Musical and linguistic expertise tried to find higher cognitive skills, like musical, linguistic and auditory skills. In French, like other languages, there is some musicality. The sound is interesting to study the learning of language and music. Learning in adult implies to repeat similar or familiar sounds.

The conclusions of the study led by François were that the linguistic structure is better learned than the musical structure even for musicians, who exhibit better sound processing in the auditory cortex than non-musicians. Also musicians better process tonal and interval information than non-musicians. In summary, musicians stored stronger proto-lexical traces of both words and tone-words than non-musicians.

The importance of learning music

There were important differences between the two groups of children, the painting group and the music group, participants of the experiment after one year and two years. In the second year the music groups have a bigger percentage of correct responses in the recognition of words than the painting group.

In the study the researchers have found that there is a large and specific benefit of musical training on segmentation performance. The changes are not related to a general increase in motivation nor in attention. The familiarity, affect on event related potentials, is visible after training in the music group but not in the painting group.

“Musical practice in adults and children has beneficial effects on speech learning. We must promote music in children”, concluded François.

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