this article provides an overview of our research, including studies yet unpublished, on the effects of music on cognition. Music instruction can enhance children's spatial-temporal reasoning, numerical reasoning, and phonemic awareness. Longitudinal studies of middle-income and economically disadvantaged preschoolers reveal that children who receive music instruction prior to age 7 show improved performance on spatial-temporal and numerical reasoning tasks compared to children in control groups—effects that persist for two years after the intervention ends. Three additional studies suggest that teacher gender may influence these transfer effects in children. Our studies also show improved perceptual discrimination as a function of music training: adult string players have lower than average pitch discrimination thresholds, whereas adult percussionists have lower than average temporal discrimination thresholds. These effects are strongest for musicians who begin their training before age 7. Related to these improvements in perceptual discrimination, children provided with violin instruction perform better than controls on tasks measuring phonemic awareness, a skill that correlates strongly with pitch discrimination and is related to reading acquisition.
- Received November 29, 2010.
- Accepted July 22, 2011.
- © 2011 by The Regents of the University of California