In the safety of the womb already, we are exposed to gentle muffled sounds. We come into the world with forte, tend to leave piano – and in between develop lyrically, maturing and growing old with music. The webinar looks at the parts of the brain that are key in the development of auditory perception and listening in the youngest, and what happens later. Music perception occurs in the temporal lobe and the cerebellum, which continues to segment and mature into adolescence. No wonder, then, that teenagers so often search for identity through music. Still, the critical period in the development of auditory perception starts already in utero, progressing through the infant stage then starting to gradually diminish by the time of entry into school. Given appropriate genetic predisposition and musical experience prior to 6 years of age, some children develop an absolute pitch. The consistent use of tonality generally appears after 5 years of age. Nevertheless, brain plasticity and the period crucial to musicality remain available somewhat longer: connections to the secondary auditory cortex reach their pinnacle between 10 and 12 years of age; the primary cortex is active starting with birth but reaches its peak activity only at nine. With 8 years of age, the development of attention and memory brings a true flourishing of musical ability and understanding of musical structure. Most sensitive to harmony and harmonics are adolescents in particular. Interestingly, musicians who regularly practice maintain the neuroplasticity of their auditory cortex even in their sixties. From cradle to grave, thus, the lyrical network between the brain, the heart and the body captivates and enchants us – making our lives more beautiful and our brains younger.
Doc. dr. Tina Bregant, MD – specialist in paediatrics and physical and rehabilitational medicine with a PhD in neurology, has been working in medicine with children and youth for over 20 years. As a lecturer and student mentor she cooperates in the program Cognitive Science at the Sigmund Freud University branch in Ljubljana, and the programs of special and rehabilitation pedagogy, and speech therapy and surdopedagogy at the Faculty of Education in Ljubljana. At the Angela Boškin Faculty of Healthcare she is the convenor of the Paediatrics course. Relevant for the webinar at hand is that she was an avid flute player for 10 years, and that all three of her children enthusiastically attended music school.