Thursday, March 12, 2009

Music and our Kids

Nicky has always loved music, even though he did not express his interest the way other kids did. One of the things that kids with ASD often can't do is imitation and singing nursery rhymes and kids songs is really nothing more than imitation in the early years, so Nicky could not follow along. Instead he would jump up and down make noises and flap his hands. He couldn't sing a song until he was 7 and he still can't organize his body well enough to dance in a group(another form of imitation). Now he likes to sing and when he finds a song (usually a theme to a TV show he has heard hundreds of times) he enjoying singing along with the TV. He likes to dance and his favorite place to do this is the movie theatre. At the end of a movie he turns to me and say's "Mommy Dance", we stand and we do a kinda rock back and forth dance move until the end credits are finished. This is pure joy for little man. I've always known that he loves the piano, even though he refuses to sit still for lessons. Instead I will find him on the piano, by himself playing on the keys, creating sounds that really blend together beautifully. Sometimes he sits and plays for up to 10 minutes, just focused and listening.

When I think about the music that Nicky is attracted to, they each have a very specific emotional connection, all connecting him to the feelings he has around his experience where he heard the music. The songs he likes from Video's are usually very exciting and full of fun reminding him how much he likes the video. The music he likes to dance to at the end of a movie usually calm and happy and let's him re create his feelings from watching the movie. The piano music he creates tends to be calm and I think he is experimenting with sounds that he can use to sooth himself. That said, I read this article this week about music and the brain and thought I should share. It also reminded me to keep looking for a music teacher for Nicky. Not alot of music teachers reaching out to teach ASD kids piano in my area :(. I've tried.

Want to Rewire Your Brain? Study Music
All Those Hours at the Piano Paid Off: A Musician's Brain Recognizes Sound That Carries Emotion

By Lee Dye at

All those hours practicing the piano pay off big time by biologically enhancing a person's ability to quickly recognize and mentally process sounds that carry emotion, according to a new study.
The study, from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., offers a new line of evidence that the brain we end up with is not necessarily the same brain we started out with.
"We are measuring what the nervous system has become, based on an individual's experience with sound," Nina Kraus, director of the university's groundbreaking Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory, said in a telephone interview.
Kraus and a team of researchers attached electrodes to the heads of 30 people, half of whom were serious musicians and half of whom had no significant musical training. The electrodes measure electricity, "which is, of course, the currency of the nervous system," Kraus said. The study revealed two major differences between the musicians and the nonmusicians.
Musicians heard an emotion-packed, complex sound with an enhanced sensitivity, and they also were less distracted by simple sounds, according to the study, published in the current issue of the European Journal of Neuroscience.
"What we found in this study is both an enhancement and an economy of resources varies as a function of the extent of musical experience," Kraus said. "The more years the person has been playing an instrument, and the earlier the person began musical training, the larger the effect."
Although many other studies have tried to show the beneficial effects of musical training, the researchers said their findings "provide the first biological evidence for behavioral observations indicating that musical training enhances the perception of vocally expressed emotion." The findings have implications far beyond the world of music.
"The same neural transcription process that is enhanced in musicians is found to be deficient in some children with language disorders such as dyslexia and autism," Kraus noted.
The research suggests that something as basic as musical training may be a useful therapeutic device, along with other more traditional techniques.
Emotional ID "Quickly and accurately identifying emotion in sound is a skill that translates across all arenas, whether in the predator-infested jungle or in the classroom, boardroom or bedroom," said Dana Strait, a doctoral candidate in the music department and lead author of the study.
The researchers relied on an emotion-packed sound that has been used for many years by scientists around the world who have studied auditory processes -- the sound of an infant crying. That sound carries an enormous emotional load, but it is also a surprisingly complex sound.
Sound waves measured during the experiment show periods of relatively mild emotional content in the sounds from the baby -- almost a straight line on a chart -- punctuated with brief bursts of complex sounds that vary in intensity, frequency and strength.
The participants, wearing earphones, sat in front of a monitor showing nature films with subtitles. Every now and then, they heard the sound of a baby crying through the earphones. The electrodes measured the stimulus -- the baby crying -- and the response of each participant.
As expected, the musicians had an enhanced ability to pick up on the emotional cues of the sound. But the researchers were a little surprised to learn that the musicians were more attuned to the complex sounds -- those carrying the most emotion -- than to the less significant "periodic" sounds of crying. That allowed them to devote more resources to the important sounds and virtually ignore the sounds that carried little emotion.
+ Read more:

No comments:

Post a Comment