Why musical genius comes easier to early starters
Good news for pushy parents. If you want your child to excel musically, you now have better justification for starting their lessons early. New evidence comes from brain scans of 36 highly skilled musicians, split equally between those who started lessons before and after the age of 7, but who had done a similar amount of training and practice.
MRI scans revealed that the white matter in the corpus callosum – the brain region that links the two hemispheres – had more extensive wiring and connectivity in the early starters. The wiring of the late starters was not much different from that of non-musician control participants. This makes sense as the corpus callosum aids speed and synchronisation in tasks involving both hands, such as playing musical instruments.
"I think we've provided real evidence for something that musicians and teachers have suspected for a long time, that early training can produce long-lasting effects on performance and the brain," says Christopher Steele of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, and head of the team.
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