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Those Childhood Piano Lessons Should Start Early
Date:2/14/2013

THURSDAY, Feb. 14 (HealthDay News) -- If you're going to sign your child up for music lessons, you will want to do it sooner rather than later.

Researchers in Canada found music training strengthens connections between the areas of a child's brain that are responsible for movement, but this only happens if the child picks up an instrument before the age of 7.

"Learning to play an instrument requires coordination between hands and with visual or auditory stimuli," study co-author Virginia Penhune, a psychology professor at Concordia University and a member of the Centre for Research in Human Development, said in a university news release.

She explained that beginning music training early in childhood probably helps boost brain connections that are vital for improvements later on.

The researchers assessed the performance of 36 adult musicians who completed a non-musical motor skill task. The participants also underwent a brain scan.

Although all the musicians had the same number of years of training, the researchers pointed out half of them began their training before they were 7. The other half started taking music lessons when they were older. The researchers also compared both groups of musicians to people who had little or no formal musical training.

Although both groups of musicians had two days of practice, the study revealed that those who began their musical training before they were 7 had better timing on the motor task. The brain scans also showed the musicians who started music lessons at a younger age had enhanced white matter in the corpus callosum, a group of nerve fibers connecting the left and right motor regions of the brain.

The findings indicate that musical training between the ages of 6 and 8 can result in long-term changes to children's brain structure and motor skills. The study authors said the earlier the musicians began their musical training, the stronger the connect
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