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Young musicians versus young nonmusicians

Several studies have investigated whether musicians are more intelligent than non-musicians, in particular when they are both young.
We know that families spend a lot of time and money to provide their children with music lessons. Therefore, it may be interesting to understand whether this effort, has its rewards, whether children who undergo music training are smarter than children who don’t. Or simply put, whether young musicians are more intelligent than young non musicians. Let’s take a look at two examples of studies that were conducted by Glenn Schellenberg. In the first study Schellenberg conducted two experiment. In the first experiment, he recruited 147 children, ranging from six to 11 years old. Children completed the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children.
Experimenters were also taking further demographic details, such as the socioeconomic status of the child’s family, or whether the children were involved in other types of extra curricular activities. In the second experiment, 150 teenagers and young adults, ranges from 16 to 25 years of age, were asked to complete the Wechsler intelligence test for adults and to answer several questions about their academic performance, the socioeconomic status of their family, and so on. The results of both studies were consistent. The length of the music training taken by the participant was positively correlated with their IQ, regardless whether the participant was a child or a young adult.
The association was stronger in children and weaker in young adults, and in both studies, it was non-specific. There was no subset of the intelligence test that was particularly associated with the music training. The author also asked whether this association was large enough
to have practical significance: in childhood, six years of lessons could lead to an increase in IQ by 7.5. But the same training leads to an increment of only two points in the IQs of young adults. In a successive study, Schellenberg replicated the previous search and again investigated the relationship between music activity and intelligence. However, this time he searched for a particular possible explanation in the so-called executive functions. Executive functions is a loose construct that pertains to conscious, goal-directed, problem-solving, and when in pair leads to failures to make wise judgements, cognitive inflexibility, poor planning of future actions, and difficulty inhibiting inappropriate responses.
In particular, small effects of musical training on cognition (thus intelligence) might occur because music lessons train attentional and executive functioning, which benefits almost all cognitive tasks. In this study, the author recruited 106 participants, ranging from nine to 12 years old. The participants were asked to take a short version of a full intelligence tests and to do a few tasks that were there to measure their executive functions. The results confirmed the results of the investigation Schellenberg
conducted in 2006: children with music training had better scores in the memory test than non musically trained children. However, the performance of the two groups in the task measuring the executive functions did not differ, and executive functions in general, could not explain the advantage of the music group intelligence score. Overall, these two studies reveal an advantage in intelligence by the musicians, in particular the young ones. Noticeably, and in particular the first study, the results reveal a linear relationship between music lessons and intelligence. The longer the music training, the higher the intelligence.

Several studies have investigated whether musicians are more intelligent than non-musicians, in particular when they are both young.

The results of these studies seem to suggest that young musicians are smarter than young non-musicians. Watch the video to find out more!

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Music and Intelligence: Can Music Make You Smarter?

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