Music and Learning

Over the last 50 years we have learned a great deal in the field of audition. Research has shown that hearing is continuously developing and changing with our environment, allowing us to hear new sounds. For example, as an individual learns a second language, they also begin to develop the ethnic accent. There is a considerable amount of variation in what individuals are able to hear. For example, a violinist may notice slight changes in tone that many other persons not involved in music cannot detect. Because of the intimate relationship between hearing and speech, reduced sensitivity to sounds can create a huge communication gap between persons.

The idea that sound can influence learning is not completely new, but there has been increased interest in the power of music. In a study released by the University of California Irvine, researchers demonstrated that music can serve as a stimulus, reinforcing pathways in the brain and resulting in an increased score on I.Q. tests (Campbell, 1998). This phenomenon, which became known as the "Mozart Effect" became very popular through the media and is still the topic of parenting articles. Imagine, a way to increase a child's I.Q. without homework! With a claim like that, who can blame a parent for giving it a try?

Although the Mozart Effect is somewhat controversial, other types of sound therapy have produced somewhat more substantiated effects. Various types of therapy now suggest that in some cases, auditory sensitivity can be regained and listening and speaking skills can be developed. Due to the plasticity of the auditory pathways within the brain, these types of therapy have also been used to help develop motor skills of children with cerebral palsy or genetic disorders, language skills, listening and concentration. Although there is not a wide range of experimental evidence to either support or reject these claims, this site is designed to show the new directions that are being pursued in the field of audition. How does audition influence learning? What benefits can be gained through various types of sound therapy? These links should help to answer some of those questions:

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