Preschool Music Lessons: Brain Development and Reading Readiness

Project: Research project

Project Details


We propose a study to understand how music training beginning at age 4 influences language outcomes, particularly reading readiness skills. This project will capitalize on existing infrastructure in the Kraus Lab, namely a project aiming to identify preschool biomarkers of literacy, the “Biotots” project. The Biotots project has revealed that, in preschoolers, the neural processing of speech parallels emergent literacy skills, such as phonological processing, rapid automatized naming, and word reading. As the project progresses, we continue to seek neural predictors of literacy and its disorders. However, music training, as we have learned from past work including NAMM-supported research, has a profound effect on the very neural markers that are linked to literacy skills. We therefore, until now, deliberately have limited our preschool biomarker project to non-musician children. Now, with a few years of non-musician research under our belts, we are ready to broaden the scope of this line of research to investigate early literacy skills, and their neurobiological foundations, in preschoolers engaged in music lessons. Our objective in this proposal is to discover how neural markers of early literacy skills are influenced by early-childhood music lessons. This project brings together three lines of work in our lab that, until now, have remained disparate: 1) In studies of school-age and preschool children, we found that neural measures of auditory processing are enhanced in musicians relative to non-musicians.1;2 2) In non-musician preschoolers, we have found that intrinsic brain activity as well as brain responses to acoustic properties of sound are important harbingers of early literacy skills.3 3) In all of these studies, the response to speech sounds in noise was a particularly effective probe; and as our methodology has evolved, we are better armed to revisit the earlier musician effects and to scrutinize them with respect to emerging literacy.
Effective start/end date8/1/167/31/19


  • NAMM Foundation (Letter 7/1/16)


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