Parents who spend time and money to teach their children music, take heart -- a new Canadian study shows that young children who take music lessons have better memories than their nonmusical peers.
The study, to be published in the online edition of the journal Brain, showed that after one year of musical training, children performed better in a memory test than those who did not take music classes.
The research "tells us that if you take music lessons your brain is getting wired up differently than if you don't take music lessons," Laurel Trainor, professor of psychology, neuroscience and behavior at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, said in an interview.
Over a year, researchers took four measurements in two groups of children ages 4 to 6 -- those taking music lessons and those taking no musical training outside school -- and found developmental changes over periods as short as four months.
The children completed a music test in which they were asked to discriminate between harmonies, rhythms and melodies, and a memory test in which they had to listen to a series of numbers, remember them and repeat them back.