Neuroplasticity as a driver of beneficial effects in music interventions in children with developmental disorders
Keywords:Music interventions, neuroplasticity, autism spectrum disorders, cochlear implant, infantile cerebral palsy
The potential to make and to enjoy music is genetically enrooted in humans and is an important resource of joy and quality of live for children and adolescents. Music making induces short-term and long-term neuroplastic adaptations in cortical and subcortical structures. Normally developing children who learn to play a musical instrument show better auditory pattern recognition and auditory memory. Furthermore sensorimotor, intellectual, and emotional maturation are accelerated.
These effects can also be used beneficially through music interventions in children and adolescents suffering from neurodevelopmental disorders, from hearing disorders, or from cerebral palsy. Children with autism spectrum disorders learn better self-control and attention management through musical interventions and are supported in contact and communication skills. For children with cochlear implants, musical training can improve long-term outcomes not only in music perception but also in speech perception. Finally, learning a musical instrument and the associated sensorimotor-auditory and emotional integration may help children with infantile cerebral palsy improve fine motor skills but also emotional stability. Due to the numerous positive results (albeit frequently in studies with small numbers and lower quality), we advocate the increased use of qualified music intervention in child neurology and its accompanying scientific evaluation.