What would the following behaviours look like in a preschooler?
1 – Inhibitory control: the aspect of inhibitory control that involves resisting temptations and not acting impulsively or prematurely – we would suggest wanting to snatch a toy from another child or jumping on to ask a question before the teacher finished delivering the instructions.
2 – Working memory (WM): holding information in mind and mentally working with it (e.g., relating one thing to another, using the information to solve a problem) – we would think it would be remembering more than one instruction, or remembering one instruction at all.
3 – Cognitive flexibility: changing perspective or an approach to a problem, flexibly adjusting to new demands, rules, or priorities (as in switching between tasks) – this might be trying to put a square peg into a round hole, turning it upside down to try again and then looking closely at the end of the block and looking for the same shaped hole.
After 12 weeks of 35 minutes of active music learning every day, randomly chosen preschoolers in the experiment group had higher scores on all of these executive function measures. Can you imagine a preschool classroom where children had greater control over their reactions, remembered more instructions and had the cognitive capacity to solve increasingly complex problems. The other interesting aspect of this study is that the researchers went back 12 weeks later to see if the cognitive changes had stuck.
Guess what – they had!