Latest MRJ Explores Music's Impact on the Mind

  • Mar 3, 2017
  • Steve Slepner, Editor, Mensa Research Journal

Latest Mensa Research Journal explores auditory connections to intelligence

I seem to know instinctively that there must be a correlation between musical ability and intelligence. I decided to see if this was correct. It seems that yes, there is a correlation. You can read what I found in the latest issue of the Mensa Research Journal.

Inside the winter issue

  • Association between music education, intelligence and spelling
  • Relationship between IQ and musical ability
  • Children with cochlear impacts
  • Music training and speech perception
  • Listening to classical music correlates with spatial reasoning
  • Motor timing, music practice and intelligence

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One of my favorite TV programs is “On Stage at Curtis.” This show features performances by students at the famous Philadelphia school. I am continually amazed at the amount of talent there. Many of these students are prodigies, and rarely over 20. I was just watching one, Linzi Pan, who, at the age of 11, performed on the piano at the Kennedy Center with a group of other prodigies from Shenzhou, China. Yes, I’m jealous; my mother made me play the accordion. Now we’ll never know if I was a prodigy (I doubt it). I don’t know how these students do academically, but judging by how well-spoken they are when interviewed, I’ll bet they do very well.

The first paper in this latest edition of the Mensa Research Journal, “Associations Between Music Education, Intelligence, and Spelling…” by Hille et al. shows an association in elementary students between those who played an instrument and their intelligence, spelling ability, and cognitive ability. The next article, “Relationship Between IQ and Musical Ability…” by Soleimanifar et al. looks at musical ability and intelligence in children with cochlear implants (CIs). Children with CIs are not exposed to music at an early age. Even after the CI their hearing is far from normal, yet they still showed a connection between IQ and musical ability.

“The Long-Term Effects of Childhood Music Instruction on Intelligence and General Cognitive Abilities” by Eugenia Costa-Giomi is a thorough review that shows the benefits of musical instruction on cognitive abilities. “Music Training and Speech Perception…” by E. Glenn Schellenberg continues the discussion of these benefits.

“Music Training Alters the Course…” by Tierney et al. proposes that music training changes the course of adolescent brain development. Alev Muezzinoglu looks at the impact of music instruction on grade point averages in “The Impact of Music Instrument Grades….” “Predicting Who Takes Music Lessons…” by Corrigall and Schellenberg shows that the duration of music training might be determined by environmental and genetic predispositions.

“Listening to Classical Music Results…” by Bell et al. shows how listening to classical music enhances attentiveness and spatial reasoning. “Associations Between Motor Timing…” by Ullén et al. looks at the effects of motor practice and intelligence on motor timing in a large cohort of twins. “Behavioral and Neural Correlates…” by Zuk et al. looks at the relationship between music training and executive function. They further employed functional magnetic resonance imaging to look at the neural correlates between musically trained and untrained children.

I hope you will find reading this issue as interesting as I did in preparing it.