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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02389

Investigating the impact of a musical intervention on preschool children's executive function

  • 1Creative Futures UK, United Kingdom
  • 2UCL Institute of Education, United Kingdom

The impact of music interventions on the cognitive skills of young children has become the focus of a growing number of research studies in recent years. This study investigated the effect of weekly musicianship training on the executive function abilities of 3-to-4-year-old children at a London, UK preschool, using a two-phase experimental design. In Phase 1, fourteen children (Group A) took part in eight weekly musicianship classes, provided by a specialist music teacher, whilst twenty-five children (Groups B and C combined) engaged in nursery free play. Results of this Phase showed Group A to have significantly improved on two measures relating to planning and inhibition skills. During Phase 2, Group A continued with music classes, whilst Group B began music classes for the first time and Group C took part in an art intervention. Repeated measures ANOVA found no significant difference in performance improvement between the three participant groups during phase 2; however, the performance difference between groups was nearing significance for the peg tapping task (p=.06).
The findings from this study contribute to current debates about the potential cognitive benefit of musical interventions, including important issues regarding intervention duration, experimental design, target age groups, executive function testing and task novelty.

Keywords: Executive Function, Music, cognitive development, preschool, intervention, assessment

Received: 14 Aug 2018; Accepted: 13 Nov 2018.

Edited by:

Hwajin Yang, Singapore Management University, Singapore

Reviewed by:

Caroline Hornung, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Jo Van Herwegen, Kingston University, United Kingdom  

Copyright: © 2018 Bowmer, Mason, Knight and Welch. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Kathryn C. Mason, Creative Futures UK, London, United Kingdom, Kathryn.mason.12@ucl.ac.uk