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Listening to music may sharpen infants' recognition of patterns in music and speech

by Andrew Maisel
image of infant wearing headphones

No, we're not referring to the so-called Mozart Effect, where playing music to unborn children was supposed to create math geniuses. Now a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by a team of researchers at the University of Washington, measured the effect of waltz music on a group of nine month old infants.

After 12 sessions, the researchers compared the brain waves of these infants with a control group who hadn't been exposed to the music sessions, and discovered that the infant waltz aficionados exhibited the ability to predict anticipated sounds, and to recognize when their predictions were violated.

Why does that matter? The ability to anticipate expected events is a necessary precursor to learning, and even basic survival.



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