The idea that music makes you smarter received considerable attention from scientists and the media. Listening to music or playing an instrument can actually make you learn better. And research confirms this.

Music training causes long-term enhancement of preschool children’s spatial–temporal reasoning

Rauscher FH, Shaw GL, Levine LJ, Wright EL, Dennis WR, Newcomb RL. Music training causes long-term enhancement of preschool children’s spatial-temporal reasoning. Neurol Res. 1997 Feb;19(1):2-8. PubMed

Predictions from a structured cortical model led us to test the hypothesis that music training enhances young children1s spatial-temporal reasoning. Seventy-eight preschool children participated in this study. Thirty-four children received private piano keyboard lessons, 20. children received private computer lessons, and 24 children provided other controls. Four standard, age-calibrated, spatial reasoning tests were given before and after training; one test assessed spatial-temporal reasoning and three tests assessed spatial recognition. Significant improvement on the spatial-temporal test was found for the keyboard group only. No group improved significantly on the spatial recognition tests. The magnitude of the spatial-temporal improvement from keyboard training was greater than one standard deviation of the standardized test and lasted at least one day a duration traditionally classified as long term. This represents an increase in time by a factor of over 100 compared to a previous study in which listening to a Mozart piano sonata primed spatial-temporal reasoning in college students. This suggests that music training produces long-term modifications in underlying neural circuitry in regions not primarily concerned with music and might be investigated using EEG. We propose that an improvement of the magnitude reported may enhance the learning of standard curricula, such as mathematics and science that draw heavily upon spatial-temporal reasoning. [Neural Res 1997; 19: 2-8]