Rhythm Is An Important Part Of Music And Language – Researchers Say

Posted: September 20, 2013 by phaedrap1 in Science
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MessageToEagle.com – More than 100 high school students give proof to the surprising link between music, rhythmic abilities and language skills, in a new study conducted by researchers of Northwestern’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory.

There is an important link between music, rhythmic abilities and language skills. Music training helps you learn to read.

“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, director of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University in Illinois.


Each student was tested by being asked to tap their fingers along to the beat of a metronome.

Subsequently, the researchers measured the participants’ brainwaves with electrodes to observe the brains’ electrical activity in response to the sound.


This research – the first to provide biological evidence linking the ability to keep a beat to the neural encoding of speech sounds – demonstrates that accurate beat-keeping involves synchronization between the parts of the brain responsible for hearing as well as movement.

A “brainwave test” showed that the recorded brainwaves matched the sound waves almost perfectly.

However, the responses were weaker in participants with poor reading skills and who didn’t have musical training.

“This is supported biologically,” Kraus says.



“The brainwaves we measured originate from a biological hub of auditory processing with reciprocal connections with the motor-movement centers. An activity that requires coordination of hearing and movement is likely to rely on solid and accurate communication across brain regions.”

“Rhythm is an integral part of both music and language,” Kraus says. “And the rhythm of spoken language is a crucial cue to understanding.”

“Musicians have highly consistent auditory-neural responses,” says Kraus. “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 to learning to read.”

Paper is published in the Journal of Neuroscience, September 18, 2013 33(38).

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