Musical training may help kids focus their attention, control their emotions and diminish their anxiety, factors that affect their psychological health, shows a study.
Termed as the largest investigation of the association between playing a musical instrument and brain development, the findings bolster the hypothesis of the researchers that a violin might help a child battle psychological disorders even better than a bottle of pills.
“We treat things that result from negative things, but we never try to use positive things as treatment,” said James Hudziak, professor of psychiatry at University of Vermont College of Medicine in the US.
For the study, the researchers analysed the brain scans of 232 children aged six to 18.
The authors found evidence that music playing altered the motor areas of the brain, because the activity requires control and coordination of movement.
They also observed changes in the behaviour-regulating areas of the brain of kids who played music.
For example, music practice influenced thickness in the part of the cortex that relates to “executive functioning, including working memory, attentional control, as well as organisation and planning for the future,” the authors said.
A child’s musical background also appears to correlate with thickness in “brain areas that play a critical role in inhibitory control, as well as aspects of emotion processing,” they added.
The study was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.