Moving in time to a steady beat is closely linked to better language skills, a study suggests.
People who performed better on rhythmic tests also showed enhanced neural responses to speech sounds.
The researchers suggest that practising music could improve other skills, particularly speech. In the Journal of Neuroscience, the authors argue that rhythm is an integral part of language. “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,” said Nina Kraus, of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University in Illinois.
More than 100 teenagers were asked to tap their fingers along to a beat. Their accuracy was measured by how closely their responses matched the timing of a metronome.
Next, in order to understand the biological basis of rhythmic ability, the team also measured the brainwaves of their participants with electrodes, a technique called electroencephalography. This was to observe the electrical activity in the brain in response to sound.
Using this biological approach, the researchers found that those who had better musical training also had enhanced neural responses to speech sounds. In poorer readers this response was diminished.
The brainwaves recorded matched the soundwaves, she said. “You can even take the recorded brainwave and play it back through your speaker and it will sound like the soundwave.
“It seems that the same ingredients that are important for reading are strengthened with musical experience. “It may be that musical training – with its emphasis on rhythmic skills – can exercise the auditory-system, leading to stronger sound-to-meaning associations that are so essential for learning to read,” added Prof Kraus.
steady (adj) / ˈstɛdɪ/- regular, continuous
enhanced (adj) /ˈɪnˈhɑːns/- improved, increased
speech (n.) /spiːtʃ/- it’s the act or ability of speaking
skill (n) /skɪl/- ability to do a task
to tap (v) /tæp/- to strike something usually in a light and repeated way.
to measure (v) /ˈmɛʒə/ – to estimate or determine the quality, amount or degree of something.
brainwave (n) /ˈbreɪnweɪv/-(scientific language) a pattern or cycle of electrical activity in the brain.
poor reader (n) /pʊə ˈriːdə/- someone who does not read very well or has problems while reading. The opposite is “good reader”
to diminish (v) /dɪˈmɪnɪʃ/ – to become smaller
to matched (v.) /mætʃ/- to fit together, to adapt or correspond with
to strengthen (v) /ˈstrɛŋθən/- to make or become stronger
to lead to (v) /liːd/- “to tend to” or “result in”. Eg. This can only lead to misery.