A recent study at MIT shows that there may be specialized neurons in the brain for processing music. These “musical neurons” are different than similar ones used to distinguish other sounds, like speech and environmental noises.
“The implications of the findings are profound, suggesting that not only does musical aptitude and understanding have a specific seat within the brain, but that music may have played a crucial role in the evolution of the human nervous system.”
Follow up studies are planned to determine whether the “musical neurons” are acquired over time or present at birth. It has long been understood that music and language develop around the same time in a child’s brain. Many children will sing before they can talk. Further, we know that music has a strong correlation to memory. Even as an adult, I sing the “Alphabet Song” while filing music to remember the order of the letters. It’s much easier for me to sing the ABCs than to recite them. Because of the important links between music and language, early music education is rocket fuel for the developing brain.
This study may be another step to understanding how music is essential for being human.
Perhaps there is something hard-wired in our brains for processing, feeling, and making music. Are these neurons present at birth? Are they more developed in musicians? Does this research prove the academic advantages of brain training through music? Stay tuned!