Researchers link ability to keep a beat to reading and language skills

Further proof that music is more important than ever as a cross-curricular resource

Researchers link ability to keep a beat to reading and language skills


A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience by Dr. Nina Kraus
is the first to provide biological evidence linking the ability to keep a beat to the neural encoding of speech sounds, which indicates significant implications for reading. The study shows that accurate beat keeping involves synchronisation between the parts of the brain responsible for hearing and movement. Dr. Kraus of Northwestern's Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory focused on the auditory component, whereas previous research highlighted the motor component.

As part of the research, 124 Chicago high school students were given two tests. First, they were asked to listen to a metronome and to tap their finger along to it on a special tapping pad. Tapping accuracy was then evaluated. Students were then fitted with electrodes measuring the consistency of brain response to a repeated syllable. This brainwave test showed the more accurate the adolescents were at tapping to the beat, the more consistent their brain response was to the speech syllable.

"Rhythm is a integral part of both music and language, and the rhythm of spoken language is a crucial cue to understanding this." says Kraus.

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