The way sound affects the brain is a deep area of research, and it's been known for a while that mathematically rich compositions such as those by Mozart help students to learn. Playing music during class is nothing new, and with many school assemblies taking place with singing as a main part, the element of music is reaching a lot of children.
According to recent studies at the Northwestern Auditory Neuroscience Lab, the brain responds to sound in a matter of microseconds, and our brainwaves begin to resemble the sound-waves made by the music. Our brainwaves determine the balance of electrical energy within our neural network that allows us the think, make decisions, and autonomously control our vital functions. This is very important when considering the types of music that we choose to listen to, or perhaps a better word would be to “consume”, while we are doing something important.
The research by Nina Kraus of the Northwestern has delved further than this. Mindshift's Linda Flanagan writes “Kraus has learned that the brain’s response to sound in children as young as three is predictive of their ability to read. Her lab can also identify those children who are likely to struggle to read before those kids show signs of the language disorder.”
Does this suggest a future of sound testing of infants before they go to school to determine which stream of education they enter? Will children be sectioned into various reasoning skill groups by the time they are five,down to the evidence suggested by this study? The work goes on to imply that the levels of background noise in a child's life will contribute to the natural levels of neural noise that occurs behind the boundaries of totally conscious thought.
Products like meditative whole-tones for healing have been around for a long while, and now with this new light on the way sound causes us to think in various patterns, the concept perhaps doesn't sound quite so out there. Maybe it's possible to counter-act some of the effects of negative sounds which contribute to neural noise with the waveforms of other things, which could be described as the opposite or positive sounds. More work needs to be done in order to determine how far reaching this idea can go before it becomes ineffective.
Understanding music is a very challenging job for the brain, as the complexity of the whole can be high. Being able to pick out the individual pieces and merge them into an order that can be understood requires a significant amount of energy and thought, even if only in the background of the mind. Silence can be difficult to find in life, so grab it while you can. Perhaps experiment for yourselves with various types of music and see which ones you learn best with.
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Rowan Blair Colver for Alternative Fruit
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