Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hit the right note and read the right letter

music notes
Musical training may help to tackle dyslexia because it improves functions of the brain that are also used in language processing. This is the conclusion of a series of experiments with normal and dyslexic children and with adults in France.

The researchers at the Institut de Neurosciences Cognitives de la Méditerranée in Marseille have found that dyslexic children perform worse than normal readers in discriminating musical pitch changes. Such differences in skill mainly depend on musical practice rather than on innate musical talents. That is, they can be improved by training. Besides such behavioural experiments, the brains of the subjects have been scanned while they have been performing their tasks. The results show that there is a set of common processes in the brain, involved both in musical and in language processing.

Musical training for dyslexic children has been suggested earlier, based upon practical experience. The new French research adds more evidence to this rationale. After all it is common wisdom that every language has its own melody, just like music. Some Swiss dialects or Swedish really sound like sung, and in Chinese the rising or falling tone has a lexical meaning. Italian sounds like a belcanto opera. Thus, why not have your dyslexic child sing instead of read those difficult sentences? It may be worth a try.

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