Short-Term Orchestral Music Training Modulates Hyperactivity and Inhibitory Control in School-Age Children: A Longitudinal Behavioural Study.
Fasano MC., Semeraro C., Cassibba R., Kringelbach ML., Monacis L., de Palo V., Vuust P., Brattico E.
Survey studies have shown that participating in music groups produces several benefits, such as discipline, cooperation and responsibility. Accordingly, recent longitudinal studies showed that orchestral music training has a positive impact on inhibitory control in school-age children. However, most of these studies examined long periods of training not always feasible for all families and institutions and focused on children's measures ignoring the viewpoint of the teachers. Considering the crucial role of inhibitory control on hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity, we wanted to explore if short orchestral music training would promote a reduction of these impulsive behaviors in children. This study involved 113 Italian children from 8 to 10 years of age. 55 of them attended 3 months of orchestral music training. The training included a 2-hour lesson per week at school and a final concert. The 58 children in the control group did not have any orchestral music training. All children were administered tests and questionnaires measuring inhibitory control and hyperactivity near the beginning and end of the 3-month training period. We also collected information regarding the levels of hyperactivity of the children as perceived by the teachers at both time points. Children in the music group showed a significant improvement in inhibitory control. Moreover, in the second measurement the control group showed an increase in self-reported hyperactivity that was not found in the group undergoing the music training program. This change was not noticed by the teachers, implying a discrepancy between self-reported and observed behavior at school. Our results suggest that even an intense and brief period of orchestral music training is sufficient to facilitate the development of inhibitory control by modulating the levels of self-reported hyperactivity. This research has implications for music pedagogy and education especially in children with high hyperactivity. Future investigations will test whether the findings can be extended to children diagnosed with ADHD.