The relationship between music training and executive functions has remained inconsistent in previous studies, possibly due to methodological limitations. This study aims to investigate cognitive inhibitory control in children (9–12 years old) with and without musical training, while carefully considering confounding variables. To assess executive functions, the Simon task was used, measuring reaction times (RTs) and error rates on congruent and incongruent trials. Information on important variables such as bilingualism, socio-economic status (SES), music pedagogy and amount of musical training was collected through a parental questionnaire. Furthermore, verbal and non-verbal intelligence were assessed with validated tests to consider their effects as well. The results showed that the samples did not significantly differ in background variables. The analysis of the RT data on the Simon task revealed a significant group × congruency interaction, such that musically trained children showed a reduced magnitude of the congruency effect (RTs on incongruent trials – RTs on congruent trials) compared to non-musicians. To conclude, music training seems to be associated with enhanced cognitive inhibitory control in well-matched samples.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors would like to thank Professor Emeritus Eric Soetens for his help and advice. In addition, the authors are grateful to the children, schools and parents who participated in this study. This study was funded by a grant from the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO), which was awarded to Marie-Eve Joret (No.11M0115N).
© 2016, © The Author(s) 2016.
- early childhood music education
- executive functions
- inhibitory control
- music training
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology