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Study Reports Good Rhythm Tied to Language Skills

Update Date: Sep 18, 2013 03:45 PM EDT

Even though all humans are taught language at a very ripe age, the process of learning is different for all people. Some individuals have the ability to pick up and learn new language with extreme ease while others struggle. Several research studies have examined the possible explanations as to why some people are more adept to learning new languages. In a new study, researchers believe that being able to move in time with a steady beat could help with the development of better language skills.

"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," stated Nina Kraus from the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Illinois' Northwestern University.

For this study, the research team recruited over 100 teenagers. The teens were asked to tap their fingers in rhythm to a steady beat. The researchers measured the teens' level of accuracy by recording the teens' responses to the timing of a metronome. The team also measured the teens' brainwaves as they tapped their fingers in order to get an idea of their biological basis of rhythmic ability. The researchers used electroencephalography, which is a noninvasive method that attaches electrodes to the head.

The researchers discovered that teens that had more musical training performed better. The musical teens had significantly better brain responses to the speech sounds in comparison to teens that did not have a musical background. According to the researchers, people who had enhanced responses to the sound had brainwaves that matched the sound waves.

"You can even take the recorded brainwave and play it back through our speaker and it will sound like the sound wave," explained Kraus. "It seems that the same ingredients that are important for reading are strengthened with musical experience. Musicians have highly consistent auditory-neural responses."

Responses to the study believe that musical training has a lot to do with learning better language skills. These experts believe that musical training affects how the brain interprets and reads language through sounds.

"This study adds another piece to the puzzle in the emerging story suggesting that musical-rhythmic abilities are correlated with improved performance in non-music areas, particularly language," John Iversen from the University of San Diego, who was not a part of the study, commented according to BBC. Iversen studies how the brain processes music.

The study was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

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