A University of Vermont College of Medicine child psychiatry team has found evidence they expected - that music playing altered the motor areas of the brain, because the activity requires control and coordination of movement and changes were observed in the behavior-regulating areas of the brain.
For example, music practice influenced thickness in the part of the cortex that relates to "executive functioning, including working memory, attentional control, as well as organization and planning for the future".
James Hudziak, M.D., professor of psychiatry and director of the Vermont Center for Children, Youth and Families, and colleagues including Matthew Albaugh, Ph.D., and graduate student research assistant Eileen Crehan, call their study "the largest investigation of the association between playing a musical instrument and brain development."
Hudziak and his team discovered that cortical thickening or thinning in specific areas of the brain reflected the occurrence of anxiety and depression, attention problems, aggression and behavior control issues even in healthy kids, those without a diagnosis of a disorder or mental illness.
The findings bolster Hudziak's hypothesis that a violin might help a child battle psychological disorders even better than a bottle of pills.
The study was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.