Dubai researchers examine effect of music on child development
DUBAI // Researchers at the Canadian University Dubai are examining the effect of music on the development of children’s brains.
Dr Efthymios Papatzikis, professor of educational neuroscience, said that music interaction at an early age can improve the learning capacity and mathematical thought.
The science also suggested that it can affect development of the intellectual and emotional regions of the brain, as well as the structural and functional properties of the brainstem.
“If we think about the things we remember best as a child – words and images in our schoolbooks, or songs and melodies that we sang or were sung to us – it’s far more likely that the sounds will be remembered most,” Dr Papatzikis said.
“The reason is that our brains are ready, pre-wired as we call it in neuroscience, to understand, decode and use sounds and melodies long before we learn to speak and communicate via language. Sound and music is our first real connection and point of communication with the world, even when still in the mother’s womb.”
Dr Papatzikis was a professional violinist before turning to academia to explore why music seemed to be so important in human development.
For the past 15 years, he has studied the neurobehavioural development of babies, toddlers and young adults, using neuroscience and psychology, in parallel with sound and music.
His research used electroencephalography and magnetic resonance imaging.
“Through this research approach, I am trying to understand how to enhance conscious and unconscious learning in formal and informal environments like schools, nurseries, newborn intensive care units, children’s hospitals ... mainly focusing on the way infants develop their biological, psychological and social skills in their early years of life [aged birth to three].”
Eleni Karapetsa, co-researcher on the project, said their work showed the importance of updating the means with which teachers supported those with learning difficulties.
“Learning is a constant research process,” said Ms Karapetsa, who teaches special-needs children and is conducting the research in the department of special education at the Metropolitan College of Thessaloniki, Greece.
“Undeniably, the special-education needs contexts need innovative ideas to improve and develop, whichever the cultural or economic background they might belong in.”
Updated: November 15, 2015 04:00 AM