Music Training and APD

The 10th Anniversary Marion Downs Lecture in Pediatric Audiology at the American Academy of Audiology’s 2014 Annual Conference was presented by Dr Nina Kraus of Northwestern University, Illinois. Marion Downs, who just celebrated her 100th birthday, is renowned for her pioneering influence on early detection and treatment of deafness in children. Dr Kraus is an international authority on the neurophysiology of the auditory system. A musician herself, Dr Kraus has documented the remarkable and long-lasting positive effects of music training on the brain.

Music training has been shown to be beneficial for children with auditory processing disorder (APD). Because it is a time-consuming and sometimes expensive activity to undertake for therapeutic reasons it is not routinely recommended as a treatment. There are faster and more direct methods of intervention. But for families who value music training it is a wonderful adjunct to other therapies.

Neuroplastic therapy requires the brain’s active participation. Franchised passive music listening treatments are marketed direct to parents of children with APD by non-audiologists. Professional audiology and speech language therapy organisations warn that such treatments are not so far supported by a body of positive evidence from peer-reviewed randomised controlled scientific trials. In our opinion children with APD are more likely to benefit from listening to audio books. Speech is an ideal stimulus since it is speech understanding we are seeking to improve.  If a book is interesting enough to engage concentrated attention and hence active listening, neuroplastic change can result. 

When questioned about her research on the benefits of music listening versus learning a musical instrument, Dr. Kraus said that the same beneficial therapeutic results were not seen from listening.  She commented “You don’t get fit by watching sport from a couch”.

>>> At SoundSkills we are extremely dedicated to our mission of diagnosing, treating and raising awareness about APD. Click here to learn more.