New Study: Learning an instrument can help children with creativity & memory

19th October 2020

A new study shows young musicians who play an instrument and practise frequently have increased memory and attention skills. The findings come from a recent study, which showed how musically-trained children performed better at attention and memory recall exercises. They also had greater activation in brain regions related to attention control and auditory encoding.

Whilst many of us are fully aware anecdotally that learning music can bring such benefits, it’s reassuring to see regular new studies that back that up with scientific method.

The Study

Researchers in Chile tested the attention and working memory of 40 children between the ages of 10 and 13. Twenty played an instrument, had had at least two years of lessons, practiced at least two hours a week and regularly played in an orchestra or ensemble.

A series of recognised tests were performed on each participant and their brain activity recorded using magnetic resonance imaging that detects small changes in blood flow. The researchers found that two brain mechanisms worked better in children who regularly play an instrument.

“Brain regions that are more active include a working memory system involved in auditory processing, establishing auditory-motor connections, and tonal and verbal auditory working memory,” said Dr Leonie Kausel, a violinist and neuroscientist at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and the Universidad del Desarrollo Chile.

“It also helped with the fronto-parietal control network, a large-scale network composed of various brain regions that deals with executive function, goal-oriented, and cognitively-demanding tasks,” she said.

The study is published in the journal ‘Frontiers in Neuroscience’ and can be read in full here: