Reference: Jakobson, Lorna S., Cuddy, Lola L. Kilgour, Andrea L. “Time Tagging: A Key to Musicians’ Superior Memory. “ Music Perception 20. 3, 2003: 307-313
Reviewer: Liesel Deppe
Researchers from two universities, Queens University and the University of Manitoba studied 60 students to determine whether formal musical training had any effect on other non-musical skills. They were able to show that there is an indirect mechanism at work between musical skill and some non-musical skills, although they were unable to show at this point, what this indirect mechanism is,.
However, they were able to show that musical skills do positively affect auditory temporal-order processing. . Temporary-order processing in turn mediates the relationship between musical training and prose recall.
Subjects were drawn from the student body of both universities and ranged from those with no musical training to those with up to 15 years of musical training.. Results of traditional tests, such as the TBAC (Test of Basic Auditory Capabilities) showed significant differences between trained and untrained musicians. Supporting this finding is the literature quoted in the article: highly trained musicians show enlargement of auditory processing areas in the left temporal lobe of the brain (Schlaug, Jancke, Huang and Steinmetz, 1995)The authors of this study based their study on the hypothesis that music instruction affects the development of verbal abilities indirectly by improving the auditory temporal processing skills. These happen to be the same skills that allow us to make fine distinctions between rapidly changing acoustic events. These skills are important in both music and speech
Response: This study showed the correlation between music and other areas in life, such as speech, where auditory temporal-order processing skills are important. No direct link or mechanism has yet been established. I think it is important that this study distinguishes between listening to music passively and hope that it will have some beneficial effects in other areas of life versus actively engaging in musical activity (i.e. musical training) in order to improve another ability, such as speech. Being actively involved in musical activity may aid in speech development, although further research needs to be done in order to determine how to apply this knowledge..
Personally I find that music should still be an activity that is appreciated for its beauty, and that this should be its main focus. I do not feel that musicians should feel that they have to justify their craft only in terms of beneficial side effects.