Compared to peers with no musical training, adults with one to five years of musical training as children had enhanced brain responses to complex sounds, making them more effective at pulling out the fundamental frequency of the sound signal. The fundamental frequency, which is the lowest frequency in sound, is crucial for speech and music perception, allowing recognition of sounds in complex and noisy auditory environments. “Thus, musical training as children makes better listeners later in life,” said Nina Kraus, the Hugh Knowles Professor of Neurobiology, Physiology and Communication Sciences at Northwestern. “Based on what we already know about the ways that music helps shape the brain,” she said, “the study suggests that short-term music lessons may enhance lifelong listening and learning.
And yet funding for arts and music education is one of the first things to be cut and is anathema to a large swath of policymakers.