A new study in the Journal of Neuroscience finds that kids who take music lessons for at least two years may be better at language comprehension. The study took place at a nonprofit called the Harmony Project in Los Angeles, Calif. that runs an after-school music program for low-income communities.
Neurobiologist Nina Kraus, who runs the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University, studied the brainwaves of children participating in music lessons twice weekly and found that as the brain learns to identify pitch, timing and timbre in music, it also learns to identify it more easily in speech.
Between the two groups she studied, one group studying music for one year and another for two years, she found the two-year group experienced less "neural noise" that would interfere with them concentrating on certain tones or time signatures. Kraus also found that children raised in low-income communities are exposed to a less diverse vocabulary than average, which can alter these abilities. The study only contained 50 participants, so it's not definitive, but the results look promising to Kraus.