Claudette Anderson owns Prescription For Success in Parker, Colorado. Her center offers auditory, visual, and cognitive therapy as well as testing. Claudette is a certified practitioner of the Structures of Intellect (SOI) program as well as numerous other treatment modalities.
From the womb to adulthood, sound has made you what you are today. Studies conducted throughout the world have shown us how sound’s energy shapes the brain’s development before birth; how musical rhythms regulate our body movements; how pitch, tone and musical structure can fine-tune the mind and sharpen listening skills; how music can improve student’ test scores and communication skills; and how brains of musicians differ than those of non-musicians.
The music of your life began with a heartbeat. Sounds from the outside world, immersed you in the womb; filtered sounds were transmitted to your ears through the amniotic fluid. Especially during the final trimester, the fetus readily responds to sound in the environment. Mothers have reported that their unborn child kicks in time to music played-even stopping and starting as the music stops and starts again.
New neurological pathways are created in the fetus’ brain through contrasts of sound. A fetus’ brain tries to make sense of new sounds. The fetus remembers sounds. The fetus becomes accustomed to familiar sounds and responds to new sounds. This is the first form of learning you have. Developing human brains seem to adjust to music even more than our language. Infants often recognize and respond to the theme songs of TV programs their mothers watched while pregnant. The mother’s voice can pattern in the fetus not only the brain and style of communication, but the physical body’s sense of itself in the world.
After birth, as an infant you paid attention to familiar voices that you heard in the womb, especially your mother’s voice. You would turn your head to the source of the sound. Babies even attend to the pitch, rhythm, tone and emotion in the music. Mothers have always sung comforting songs to their babies because “babies understand it, according to Norman Weinberger, an auditory neuroscientist at the University of California. Musical favorites are obvious in infants. They will wiggle and coo when they like the sound or squirm, turn away, or even cry from unpleasant sounds.
For those of us who received insufficient patterning in some way, there is help in developing the deficits and an individual’s true “voice.” The deficits are called “Auditory Processing Disorder.” We treat this problem with music therapy.
Music does improve brain function by stimulating neural circuits in many different areas of the brain and by providing crossover activity between the hemispheres of the brain. If we improve our listening ability, we help the brain work better.
As you got older, your ability to hear the tone and rhythms of sounds helped you to learn words. Speech is based on frequencies of sounds. There’s a definite close connection between music and spoken language. They share: rhythm, melody and pitch and are both processed in the brain in similar ways. Many areas in the brain that are crucial to our language are related to music, too. The Broca’s brain area deals with musical sight reading and with language processing and organization, plus memory. As musicians age, they keep an average of 15% more gray matter in the Broca area than non-musicians have. Sound first reaches the brain in the Heschl’s Gyrus. Musicians have 130% more gray matter in this area than non-musicians.
From a fetus to a grown-up, music is essential and remarkable. Music stimulates development, provides pleasure, strengths your neural pathways, enhances your sensory and perceptual (auditory and visual) systems, improves memory and stimulates good emotions and social bonds.