You’ve got the beat?

Is it important if you want to impress your significant other on the dance floor? Absolutely. Could it be relevant in other instances? Based on recent research, it sure seems like it!

124 high school students were studied at Northwestern University and the surprising link between music, rhythmic abilities and language skills was published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

 Dr. Nina Kraus works shows, for the first time, biological evidence linking the ability to keep a beat to the neural encoding of speech sounds as it has significant implications for reading.

Dr. Kraus was able to demonstrate that accurate beat keeping involves synchronization between the parts of the brain responsible for hearing as well as movement.

Hearing sounds of speech and associating them with the letters comprising written words is crucial to learning how to read, say the Northwestern researchers. They reasoned that the association between reading and beat synchronization likely has a common basis in the auditory system.

Two tests were performed on the subjects. In the first test, they were asked to listen to a metronome and tap their finger along to it on a special tapping pad. Tapping accuracy was computed based on how closely their taps aligned in time to the tick-tock of the metronome.

In the second test, a “brainwave test”, the subjects were fitted to electrodes measuring the consistency of their brain response to a repeated syllable.

The more accurate the subjects were at tapping along to the beat, the more consistent their brain response was to the speech syllable.

Kraus says that rhythm is an integral part of both music and language.

Could it be then that, if we improve coordination and balance, we can improve cognitive performance?

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