At last count, 25 million people had viewed aÂ YouTube clip of an infant smiling tearfully while her mother sings a bittersweet Rod Stewart ballad. While that’s only anecdotal evidence of music’s power, science also suggests that music taps into something deep inside the human brain even before we can talk.
To learn more about how babies respond to music, National Geographic interviewed Dr. Laurel Trainor, Director of McMaster University’s Institute for Music and the Mind in Hamilton, Ontario.
"The people have spoken! The winner of the first-ever People's Choice Award for 3MT [i.e. the 3-minute thesis] is Kate Einarson, whose three-minute thesis, Finding the Beat in Music: The Role of Culture, Cognitive Abilities and Motor Skills, struck a note with online viewers." - McMaster University bulletin
Laurel Trainor is the director of McMaster University's Institute for Music and the Mind. In the video below, Trainor explains what's happening in the brain when we listen to an enjoyable piece of music versus playing a musical instrument.
Pitch encoding in polyphonic music - TEDxMcMasterU
Dr. Céline Marie, TEDxMcMasterU (April 2013)
Watch postoctorate fellow in the the Auditory Development Lab, Dr. Céline Marie, deliver her TEDxMcMasterU talk:
"Pitch encoding in polyphonic music: Influence of culture and nature"!
Google+ Hangout: Music and the Mind
Science Sunday Live on Google + (April, 2013)
Dr. Laurel Trainor was part of a live G+ Hangout on Music and the Mind, hosted by Dr. Allison Sekuler. See it here!
Babies' Brains Need Music
The Big Picture RT (May, 2012)
According to researchers at McMaster University in Canada, very early music training can benefit children, before they even learn to walk or talk. The researchers found that one-year-old babies who participated in interactive music classes with their parents smiled more, communicated better and showed earlier and more sophisticated brain reactions to music. Laurel Trainor, director of the McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind and a lead researcher on the study, said that while "many past studies of musical training have focused on older children, our results suggest that the infant brain might be particularily plastic with regard to musical exposure."
Want a Less Fussy, Easier-to-Soothe, Kinder Child? Make Music!
Maia Szalavitz, TIME Healthland (May 2012)
The actively-trained infants were less distressed by frustration, showed less anxiety about new experiences, smiled and laughed more and were easier to soothe. The researchers write, “the active classes led to more positive parent-infant social interactions compared to the passive classes.”