Music Lessons Spur Emotional and Behavioral Growth in Children

A new study finds that music training aids emotional and behavioral maturation in addition to the clear benefit of developing motor skills.  This recent study is one of the largest to investigate brain development of those who play instruments. Researchers at the University of Vermont College of Medicine used MRI’s (Magnetic Resonance Instruments) to analyze the brains of 232 healthy children aged six to 18 who play instruments. James Hudziak, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont, shared their findings that the more a child trained on an instrument, the better they could manage their attention, anxiety and emotions. The cortex, the outer layer of the brain, changes in thickness as a child grows. In a previous study, Hudziak and his colleagues found a relationship between cortical thickening and thinning with the parts of the brain responsible for depression, aggression, and attention problems. But then research published in the Journal of American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry revealed different data. Hudziak was focused on examining positive aspects of child development with the aim to benefit it.  He found himself surprised by the emotional regulatory regions.  Just as you can exercise muscles in your arm by doing push ups, you can also tone the functions of your brain.  Hudziak describes a mental illness in the following way, “A kid may still have ADHD.  It’s the storm around it that improves.”  Training your brain to respond to certain stimuli can be a much better solution than taking medicine that comes with side affects. With all this passion surrounding musical learning, he felt he should try it too and took his first music lessons ever this past year.  He believes the music lessons contributed to his overall wellness, in addition to regular exercise and meditation.