Music may be doing so much more than just soothing your savage little beasts.
Canadian researchers at Hamilton's McMaster University have concluded that exposure to music training at a very young age -- even before babies are able to talk or walk -- can have some pretty amazing benefits for developing brains.
According to a study published in Developmental Science and Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences and funded by the Grammy foundation, one-year-olds who participated in interactive music classes tended to communicate better, have a more sophisticated ear and smile more often than their peers.
"Many past studies of musical training have focused on older children," Laurel Trainor, director of the McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind, tells Science Daily. "Our results suggest that the infant brain might be particularly plastic with regard to musical exposure."
Along with music educator and grad student David Gerry, Trainor studied the differences between one-year-olds in two different music classes: one where the children interacted with environments in order to create melodies and rhythms, and another more passive music class where children played at toy stations while "Baby Einstein" music played in the background.
Those babies in the interactive class tended to show an earlier sensitivity to song structure, as well as stronger non-verbal communication skills, such as pointing and waving. They also tended to smile more and were happier and calmer overall.
Andrea Unrau of the auditory development lab at McMaster says of the study:
"Parents often tell us they aren't good at music, or they're too afraid to sing. But it appears as though nothing beats live musical interaction with mom or dad, even if you can't sing like a pop star."
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