Show Details

Babies & Music

April 28, 2016

A new study suggests musical games with their parents could not only boost babies’ musical development, but could help them recognize speech patterns, too.


baby-539969_960_720 Pixabay



The musical infant. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

9-month-old babies who listened to waltz music with their parents, moving and banging drums, were later better at recognizing musical patterns and speech than babies who played with their parents without music.  This according to University of Washington speech scientist Patricia Kuhl and her colleagues, reporting in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. She says brain scans showed that the babies in the music group could track sound patterns the other babies couldn’t.

PATRICIA KUHL (University of Washington):

We think that the babies in music intervention improved on pattern perception quite generally and that this is a good effect not only for music and not only for speech, but probably quite broadly.


She says other studies showed that it’s not just the music itself—it’s the active musical engagement with adults that triggers the boost in performance. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.