The study followed two groups of 6 children aged 4-6. They took a music test after attending music classes for one year. In this test, they had to distinguish harmonies, rhythms and melodies. They also had a memory test in which they had to listen to and then repeat a series of numbers.
The results revealed superior performance by the kids who took music lessons than those with no musical training outside school. The study was published in the online edition of the journal Brain.
Trainor said, "(The research) tells us that if you take music lessons your brain is getting wired up differently than if you don't take music lessons. This is the first study to show that brain responses in young, musically trained and untrained children change differently over the course of a year."
The Suzuki music school employs a technique in which, the kids listen to the music and then reproduce it before they learn how to read music. The children in the study who took lessons attended this school.
Trainor says, "It is not surprising to find children's musical listening skills improved to a greater degree if they took music classes.
"On the other hand," she says, "it is very interesting that the children taking music lessons improved more over the year on general memory skills that are correlated with non-musical abilities such as literacy, verbal memory, visiospatial processing, mathematics and IQ."