By Amy Vega - January 11, 2013

Hand-clapping songs improve motor and cognitive skills, research shows.

I receive many interesting scientific articles on the importance of timing in the brain for cognitive, academic, and motor skills…so many it is hard to keep up.  There appears to be keen interest by researchers around the globe re:  the timing mechanisms of the brain and how better or worse timing influences a whole host of abilities in children and adults.  There are many studies exploring the differences between individuals who participate in musical training or synchronized metronome tapping and those that do not, in particular how they differ in academic performance & development.  In this recent study at Ben- Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), researchers concluded that 1st through 3rd grade students who clapped to songs demonstrated fewer developmental learning problems and were better integrated socially than children who did not.  They went as far as to say that children at this age who do not participate in clapping to music may be at increased risk for learning disabilities.  They also demonstrated that children who are under-performing academically can catch up to their peers relatively quickly when they engage in clapping to songs on a regular basis repetitiously.  "Within a very short period of time, the children who until then hadn't taken part in such activities caught up in their cognitive abilities to those who did…hand-clapping songs should be made an integral part of education for children aged six to 10, for the purpose of motor and cognitive training.” This is similar to results seen with Interactive Metronome (IM) & IM-specific research.  However, IM takes timing to a new level with specific feedback at the millisecond level.  This is where the brain is processing time for attention, memory, self-regulation and learning.  It is common to hear an IM provider or family member remark that the results of IM training are relatively quick compared to other interventions, especially in the areas of speech/language, auditory processing, attention, reading, and learning.  IM training gets at the heart of the problem with timing in the brain.

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (2010, May 3). Hand-clapping songs improve motor and cognitive skills, research shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 8, 2013, from

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