One of the challenges with neuromusical research is that it can be so technical that it is hard to connect what the studies find with what it could mean in the “real world”. This study is a perfect example with the title “Gamma-Band Frequency Analysis and Motor Development in Music-Trained Children: A Cross-Sectional Study”
What is a gamma wave? A gamma wave is a pattern of neural activity which tells us about large scale brain connections such as the cognitive and motor networks. Specifically, gamma wave activity is evidence of working memory, attention and perceptual processing. These are the positive enhancements that are enormously helpful with academic progress.
However altered gamma wave activity, altered being another way of saying atypical or unusual, have been observed in people dealing with mood or cognitive disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy and schizophrenia. Altered gamma waves inside the brain may express themselves on the outside as poor coordination and motor control in the body.
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Researchers from the Applied Physical Therapy Department of the Federal University of Triangulo Mineiro, Brazil completed a study that looked at the motor performance of 6-11 students who did music training to explore if music learning enhanced their gamma wave activity. Their thinking was that if their gamma wave activity was enhanced, then the other enhancements in working memory, attention and perception may be enhanced while possibly guarding against mood and cognitive disorders.
Here is what they found “The musically trained children had increased gamma-peak frequency in the frontal region and greater temporal orientation, balance, and the overall motor quotient.” This could be another piece in the very complex puzzle of understanding how music learning impacts brain development in a positive way.