By Dorinne Davis
Have you ever thought about your body’s almost automatic response to move when you hear a specific kind of music? Not all of us are the same so perhaps your preferred music to move to is Rock, or Country, or Rap, or even Classical. Somewhere inside of you, your body’s desire to move to a beat triggers a response in your brain. Your cells want to move too.
For the developing child, from in utero through early childhood the ability to move to a beat is linked to your brain’s response to speech. In a study published in The Journal of Neuroscience, September 18, 2014, the brain’s response to speech was more consistent if the person was better able to move to a beat than those with less rhythm. This movement helps synchronize the parts of the brain responsible for movement and hearing.
Dr. Nina Kraus in this lab study suggests that musical training which emphasizes rhythmical skills will exercise the auditory system. This training then leads to a strong sound to meaning association which is a skill very important to the success not only for language development but also for learning to read. Her previous studies showed a link between reading ability and beat-keeping ability. Overall her study is one more support for the possible value of early musical training on the developing child’s brain.
As a parent of a young child, activities such as saying/singing nursery rhymes, playing repetitive clapping/patting games, or gently bouncing with rhythmical motion when singing simple songs or simple stories can greatly help with the early development of this important natural brain response. So enjoy the interplay with your child and sing, dance, or simply move to the beat!