MEG is a non-invasive testing procedure which allows scientists to measure ongoing changes in brain activity, millisecond by millisecond. It also shows what part of the brain is activated at a given time.
During the MEG testing, the researchers played recordings of speech and music for each baby while he or she was seated in the scanner. Each recording had a rhythm that was occasionally interrupted.
The research team studied two specific areas of each child’s brain associated with cognitive skills, including attention span and detecting patterns to see if the child reacted to the interrupted rhythms.
The study showed that the babies in the music group had stronger reactions to the interrupted rhythms in both brain areas, compared to the babies in the control group.
"Our study is the first in young babies to suggest that experiencing a rhythmic pattern in music can also improve the ability to detect and make predictions about rhythmic patterns in speech," Zhao said.
"Schools across our nation are decreasing music experiences for our children, saying they are too expensive," Kuhl said.
"This research reminds us that the effects of engaging in music go beyond music itself. Music experience has the potential to boost broader cognitive skills that enhance children's abilities to detect, expect and react quickly to patterns in the world, which is highly relevant in today's complex world."
If you have questions about your child’s development, talk to your health care provider.
Reviewed May 5, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edioted by Jody Smith
Music improves baby brain responses to music and speech. University of Washington. Science Daily. Web. Retrieved May 4, 2016.
What is magnetoencephalography (MEG)? Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences. Web. Retrieved May 4, 2016.