Verbal Memory Improved by Music Training
In a study in the journal Nature, researchers studied a group of 60
female college students from the University of Hong Kong. Thirty
of these students had at least six years of musical training with a
Western musical instrument before age 12, and thirty of the
students had no musical training.
The musical and non-musical students were closely matched in
terms of age, grade point average, and years of formal education.
Researchers administered two types of tests to the college students.
In the verbal memory test, students heard a list of 16 words read
aloud, and the students were asked to recall as many words as
possible. In the visual memory test, students briefly saw simple
figures, and they were asked to draw the figures from memory. Each
test was given three times.
On the verbal test, the music students consistently outscored the
non-music students by an average of 16%. This means they
remembered an average of 2.56 more words from a list of 16
words than their non-music peers.
On the visual test, there was no significant difference between the
scores of the music students and non-music students.
A 1995 study of the magnetic resonance images (MRI) of
musicians' brains shows that the left planum temporale region is
larger in musicians than in non-musicians. This region of the brain
is responsible for verbal memory, while the right planum
temporale is responsible for visual memory. The difference in
brain structure and organization is believed to account for the
improved verbal memory demonstrated by musicians in the above
Source: "Music Training Improves Verbal Memory" by Agnes S.
Chan, Yim-Chi Ho, and Mei-Chun Chuang, from the Chinese
University of Hong Kong. Printed in Nature, Vol. 396, November
12, 1998.
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