According to a study conducted at York University by a team of researchers, learning about rhythm, pitch, and melody for 20 days increased pre-schoolers’ verbal intelligence scores by an average of about 20 percent, with more than 90 percent of the children showing improvement.
The researchers say that music and language appear to be closely linked in the brain: the processing of music may overlap with mechanisms for handling other cognitive activities. The cognitive benefit was confirmed by brain imaging data that indicated brain changes had taken place related to the training. The findings have exciting implications for conceptualising and improving neuroeducation programs for children of all ages, and potentially for older adults.
The research team, led by Dr. Sylvain Moreno, who is now with Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute (RRI) in Toronto, included other prominent researchers in the field of cognitive development – Dr. Ellen Bialystok, York University, and principal collaborator in the study; Dr. Tom Chau, Bloorview Research Institute; and Dr. Glenn Schellenberg, University of Toronto.
You can check out the methodology and the results of their research here (warning: heavy reading). A comparable training programme in visual art yielded no improvement in verbal intelligence.