Music Programs Change Brains

Dr. Nina Kraus and her team of researchers at the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University have published a new paper about the biological changes that happen in the brain when at-risk children participate in a community-based music program.  The researchers have found that at-risk children, who complete two years of music training showed “tangible biological changes” in auditory processing in the brain, specifically a stronger neurophysiological distinction of stop consonants, compared to a control group of students who did not participate in the music program. The changes in the brain affect an area that is linked to reading and language skill acquisition, leading the researchers to conclude that active and repeated engagement with sound changes neural functions, and can help at-risk children process speech.  According to the study, this research suggests that music training can influence automatic auditory processing, and “…may stave off certain language-based challenges.”


See “Music Enrichment Programs Improve the Neural Encoding of Speech in At-Risk Children” by Nina Kraus, Jessica Slater, Elaine C. Thompson, Jane Hornickel, Dana L. Strait, Trent Nicol, and Travis White-Schwoch, The Journal of Neuroscience, September 3, 2014 34(36):11913-11918; doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1881-14.2014 at


Also, see the ongoing research at the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at



The FYI Arts updates are written by Joan Platz, Research and Knowledge Director for the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education.  The purpose of FYI Arts is to keep arts education advocates informed about issues dealing with the arts, education, policy, research, and opportunities.  The distribution of this information is made possible through the generous support of the Ohio Music Education Association (, Ohio Art Education Association (, Ohio Educational Theatre Association (; OhioDance (, and the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education (


About OAAE

It is the mission of the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education to ensure that the arts are an integral part of the education of every Ohioan. We believe that: * All children in school must have quality arts education provided by licensed arts educators * All Ohioans have the right to expect quality arts education * All arts programs must have adequate resources * All arts and cultural organizations and artists have a critical role in arts education Learn more at
This entry was posted in FYI Arts and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s