Life Health

Moving to a rhythm can boost language skills: Study

(Fotolia)

(Fotolia)

A new study suggests moving to a steady beat is closely linked to enhanced language skills.

Subjects who performed better on rhythmic tests also showed enhanced neural responses to speech sounds, with researchers suggesting that music practice could boost speech skills.

Nina Kraus, of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University in Illinois, says, "We know that moving to a steady beat is a fundamental skill not only for music performance but one that has been linked to language skills."

The team tested more than 100 teenagers by asking them to tap their fingers along to a beat and measured their accuracy by how closely their responses matched the timing of a metronome. The team also monitored the brainwaves of their participants with electrodes.

Kraus tells the BBC, "It turns out that kids who are poor readers have a lot of difficulty doing this motor task and following the beat. In both speech and music, rhythm provides a temporal map with signposts to the most likely locations of meaningful input... It seems that the same ingredients that are important for reading are strengthened with musical experience. Musicians have highly consistent auditory-neural responses. It may be that musical training – with its emphasis on rhythmic skills – can exercise the auditory-system, leading to less neural jitter and stronger sound-to-meaning associations that are so essential for learning to read."

 


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