Dyslexia and the Influence of Music
Music trains channels in the brain that play an important role in learning to read. During primary school, the parts of the brain involved are developing actively and therefore, extra sensitive to training. It is precisely in this period that music can thus optimally contribute to reading performance. Because of the influence on the development of the auditory system, musical training in children touches on primary functions such as listening, language acquisition, reading skills and emotional intelligence. Training supports dyslexia and music. These training effects are easily accessible: they already occur during extensive musical activity. More intensive musical training has even wider effects, among other things through improved concentration and increased integration of brain parts.
Language problems are among the most common developmental disorders. About twenty percent of the children are struggling with the formation of reading and writing. Children from this group with reading problems often have difficulty listening: for example, their brainstem makes a surprising number of mistakes in distinguishing between the sounds “ba”, “da” and “ga”.
Being able to listen well is essential to learn to read well. The sounds in the language are mobile and often run into one another: one ‘o’ and the other ‘o’ can differ considerably, while different letters (the ‘o’ and the ‘oe’ for example) in sound are close to can lie apart. A child who starts reading must learn to draw the right sound limits.
We can hardly imagine how difficult that is later because adult brains usually project the sounds onto the letters flawlessly. We no longer hear what the ears register, but what they should ideally register. Inadequate listening can lead a child astray when linking letters and sounds, with which it sometimes struggles for the rest of life. Even a relatively short musical training of six months can significantly improve listening and thus help to solve the problem.
Dyslexia is certainly not just an auditory problem. Dyslexia children usually have difficulty automating in more areas. The common thread is too little feedback from the cortex to the brainstem. The reading problems are a symptom of which the faltering auditory system – the inability to listen well – is the direct cause. That is why background noise reinforces the problems with dyslexic children, as French researchers found in 2009.
Learn to read better and prevent dyslexia by focusing on sound.
Children whose brains do not respond well to spoken words, read poorer. American scientists think they have found a biological “marker” for dyslexia, and hope to prevent dyslexia with hearing aids.
Researchers at Northwestern University discovered a biological mechanism that plays a vital role in reading. According to them, there is a systematic link between the reading skills of confident children and the consequence with which their brains respond to speech. They recorded the brain waves of 100 school-aged children while their teacher was telling in class. They discovered that the children whose brains responded most consistently to spoken words were the best readers. And that the children whose brains responded the least consistently scored the worst on reading assignments.
Fortunately, this biological difference did not mean that the children whose brains responded only to speech were doomed to keep reading poorly. How brains respond to speech can be trained. The children were given a device that was very similar to a hearing aid. By having the teacher talk through a microphone that was connected wirelessly to the devices, his voice ended up directly in the children’s ear. The brains of the children who used the devices reacted more consistently to the speech sounds, causing the children to read better.
Through the devices, the children’s brains learned to focus better on the teacher’s meaningful words and to pay less attention to other sounds. For children who had used the device for a year, the brain continued to respond better to speech sounds without help, and the children continued to read better. The results are, according to the researchers, an important find for dyslexic children were learning to read is difficult. “The brain’s less consistent response to speech does not occur in all dyslexic children, but many of them,” says Prof. Nina Kraus, who led the research.s
“By better understanding the biological mechanism behind reading, we can also better understand how normal reading works and better intervene where things go wrong.”