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Musical Training for Children Linked to Improved Word Memory

November 12, 1998

Musical training appears to tune up the brain's ability to remember words. Confirming what many music teachers have long believed, psychologists at the Chinese University of Hong Kong report in today's Nature that they found a 16% better word memory on average for adults who learned to play a musical instrument as children.

The study involved 30 college students with at least six years of musical instruction before age 12 and 30 students with no such training. The musically trained were found to be better at recalling words read to them from a list. The researchers noted that the left planum temporal region of the brain, behind the left ear, is known to be larger in musicians. That part of the brain also handles verbal memory.

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Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II

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