babies brains responding to music

newborn baby

The University of Washington conducted a study on how music has an effect on 9 month old babies and how their brain responds to patterns of sound. “[Their study was] the first in young babies to suggest that experiencing a rhythmic pattern in music can also improve the ability to detect and make predictions about rhythmic patterns in speech,” said lead author Christina Zhao, a postdoctoral researcher at I-LABS.

During the one month study, 39 babies and their parents participated in 12 group classes. Half of the babies participated in a group music class with a teacher leading the class of parents and children, participating in the rhythmic and musical activities. The other half of the participants played with cars, blocks and other objects without any music.

One week after the sessions ended, a MEG was used to detect responses in the brain to speech and music. Scientists were looking to see if a baby’s brain could detect patterns in the music by paying attention to the auditory cortex and the prefrontal cortex regions of the brain. Patterns of music and speech were played while looking at these regions of the brain. Occasionally the played patterns would have disruptions to test and see if the babies could detect the disruption.

Overall, the findings in their study concluded:

“Babies in the music group had stronger brain responses to the disruption in both music and speech rhythm in both the auditory and the prefrontal cortex, compared with babies in the control group.

This suggests that participation in the play sessions with music improved the infants’ ability to detect patterns in sounds.”


If babies are able to detect patterns in sound, singing is a great way to bond with your baby and foster this part of your child’s learning. Interested in group music classes? Wee Music Studio offers classes for babies, toddlers and preschoolers in Troy, Ohio. For more information, please check out and visit us on Facebook.


University of Washington. (2016, April 25). Music improves baby brain responses to music and speech. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 9, 2016 from


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