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  • Anita Connell

Rhythm supports brain development

Updated: Jul 6

Did you know that the rhythm of music can make change happen? Recent research shows the importance of using music to target improvement in rhythmic skills and how that can stimulate motor coordination and attention skills.


Music is rhythm and rhythm is structure, and it is precisely this structure that can support brain development and outcomes related to attention, motor planning and speech.


Supporting speech

A recent systematic review by Liparoti & Minino (2021) reports how several studies have examined how rhythm and coordination can help in the case of dyslexia (Menghini et al., 2011). Children with dyslexia can have difficulty with word sounds, and it has recently been shown that phonological difficulties in dyslexia extend to other features, such as processing the rhythm of speech (Leong et al., 2011). Bishop-Liebler et al., demonstrated that musical training of a group of musicians has a positive effect on some auditory processing difficulties associated with developmental dyslexia, and that musical knowledge could have beneficial effects in phonological development, especially when the rhythmic and metrical structure in music is linked to the rhythmic structure of language (Bishop‐Liebler et al., 2014).


Supporting attention

The development of rhythmic skills can also be supportive in the case of Autism (ASD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Structure is essential in order to strengthen attention, concentration and planning. Rhythm, with its natural structure, therefore helps a child with ADHD to cope with difficulties in attention and to stay on a linear path (Jackson, 2003; Rickson, 2006; Zhang et al., 2017). Rhythmic skills and musical listening can also help children with Autism (ASD). In addition to providing organisation, rhythmicity and music are able to give the child support in interacting with objects and people, encouraging communication (Gattino et al., 2011).


Supporting motor skills

Rhythm has also been shown to be a useful tool for improving the motor skills of children with Autism, improving movement coordination, motor planning deficits, gait, and impaired performance of skilled motor tasks (Findlay, 1995; Frego et al., 2004; Hurwitz et al., 1975).


So what are we waiting for? Let's put on the playlist and move to the groove!


The above content is quoted from a recent publication by MARIANNA LIPAROTI & ROBERTA MININO (2021): Rhythm and Movement in developmental age. Department of Motor Sciences and Wellness, University of Naples “Parthenope”, Italy. Published in Winter Conferences of Sports Science. Costa Blanca Sports Science Events

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