Playing a musical instrument from a young age appears to create new pathways in the brain that process written words and letters and may help children with reading disorders such as dyslexia, says a study in the journal Neuropsychologia. Musicians generally outperform nonmusicians on cognitive tests, but little is known about the effects of reading musical notes on the brain's circuitry as it relates to reading, researchers said.
Fifteen professional musicians who had played an instrument since childhood and 15 control subjects who couldn't read music participated in two experiments in Milan. Subjects were 26 to 31 years old. In one experiment, subjects pressed a button if they recognized the notes E, F, G, A and B (mi, fa, sol, la and ti on the musical scale) which randomly appeared in 300 short musical scores flashed on a computer screen. In the other experiment, they pressed the button when they spotted the letters B, G, L, M and S in 300 randomly selected words. An electroencephalogram (EEG) measured brain-wave activity.
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