Ability to keep to beat linked to superior reading and language skills


Washington, Sept. 18 (ANI): A study has linked the ability to keep a beat to the neural encoding of speech sounds. The study demonstrated that accurate beat-keeping involves synchronization between the parts of the brain responsible for hearing as well as movement. Nina Kraus, director of Northwestern's Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory and co-author Adam Tierney investigated the relationship between beat-keeping and auditory processing, by making 124 Chicago high school students give two tests. In the first, they were asked to listen to a metronome and tap their finger along to it on a special tapping pad. Tapping accuracy was computed based on how closely their taps aligned in time to the tick-tock of the metronome. In a "brainwave test," the students were fitted with electrodes measuring the consistency of their brain response to a repeated syllable. Across the population, the more accurate the adolescents were at tapping along to the beat, the more consistent their brain response was to the speech syllable. Kraus said that the brainwaves they measured originate from a biological hub of auditory processing with reciprocal connections with the motor-movement centers. She said that an activity that requires coordination of hearing and movement is likely to rely on solid and accurate communication across brain regions. The study has been published in the Journal of Neuroscience. (ANI)