Better thank your parents for putting you through piano or voice lessons during your younger years, as according to a recent study featured on ScienceDaily.com, learning music early helps create stronger neural connections.

Students from the Concordia University led by Professor Virginia Penhune, together with Robert J. Zatorre from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital at McGill University, worked with 36 adult musicians, half of which started training before age seven, while the other half began at a later age. Members of both groups had the same number of years studying music and were compared to those with little to no training.

All participants were asked to perform a movement task while researchers did brain scans. They found that those who have had musical training before age seven did the task with more precision due to a more enhanced corpus callosum, which is a part of the brain composed of nerve fibers that connects both left and right regions. Those who started music at a later age did not have any neural differences to those who had no training at all, leading to the conclusion that such brain development happens early and stops at a certain age.

Since the benefits go beyond musical ability, you may have a bit of an advantage if you started training early, but that doesn’t mean that you have it made. Many other factors can affect one’s motor skills, and if you don’t keep both your brain and your body active, early neural development won’t really matter much.

Most things in life isn’t just about skill, but also about attitude, and as Penhune concludes that “while starting early may help you express your genius, it probably won’t make you a genius.” Working for your achievements is still the best thing you can do--early brain development or not.

(Photo by Pedro Bonatto via Flickr Creative Commons)

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