In their article titled Experience-Dependent Effects in Unimanual and Bimanual Reaction Time Tasks in Musicians, Dr. Hughes and Dr. Franz explore the differences in reaction time between musicians and nonmusicians.  More specifically, they want to determine wether or not there is a difference in reaction time depending upon when the musicians took up playing an instrument.  They took a group of musicians and a group of nonmusicians, and gave them the task of hitting the response key whenever a green dot appeared on the computer screen.  They did this for the left hand, the right hand, and both hands simultaneously.  Without all the fancy jargon, what it comes down to is this:  Musicians have significantly quicker reaction times than nonmusicians.  In previous research it has been concluded that a task you complete with one hand will have a quicker reaction time than if you completed it with both hands.  This has been attributed to the fact that both hemispheres of the brain are being simultaneously activated.  The researchers also found that musicians who started their training earlier, had even quicker reaction times than their “later-in-life” musician counterparts.  This means that musicians who start their training when they’re young, are essentially strengthening and speeding up the neural connections between the hemispheres.  So what does all of this really mean, especially in the world of sports?  Well, musical experience has been attributed to increased visuospatial, verbal, and fine motor skills, so with the added benefit of reaction time, wouldn’t it make sense to provide kids with the skill sets to succeed in the realm of performance and sport through a creative and fun means?  A tennis player’s fine motor movements could be the product of years of playing an instrument that eventually ended up producing that powerhouse accurate serve.  Hand your kid an instrument – without even knowing it, by drawing the bow across the strings they will be making strides in their cognitive development. 

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