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Music lessons combat poverty’s effect on the brain
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Music lessons combat poverty’s effect on the brain

Research suggests classes can help close the socioeconomic gap in reading ability

This article was originally published by Scientific American.

Scientific AmericanScientists have observed that reading ability scales with socioeconomic status. Yet music might help close the gap, according to Nina Kraus and her colleagues at Northwestern University.

Kraus’s team tested the auditory abilities of teenagers aged 14 or 15, grouped by socioeconomic status (as indexed by their mother’s level of education, a commonly used surrogate measure). The researchers recorded the kids’ brain waves with EEG as they listened to a repeated syllable against soft background sound and when they heard nothing. They found that children of mothers with a lower education had noisier, weaker and more variable neural activity in response to sound and greater activity in the absence of sound. The children also scored lower on tests of reading and working memory.


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