ADD / ADHD, Dyslexia, Music

Singing Cavemen and Amusia

I am fascinated by how music effects the brain and its connection to dyslexia and ADHD. Music can have a powerful effect on the emotions and research on the mozart effect has shown that in short and long term studies music can produce improved mental abilities and behavioral problems. Children with learning disorders seem to struggle with the basics of music such as detecting changes in pitch and keeping a beat going. Indeed Rhythmic training can have a significant effect on children with ADHD.
Now Steven Mithen, a Professor at Reading University in the UK has put forward ideas on how music played a part during our evolution.
He starts with evidence that music is not merely a side effect of intelligence and language, as some argue. Instead, recent discoveries suggest that music lays sole claim to specific neural real estate. Consider musical savants. Although learning-disabled or retarded, they have astounding musical abilities. One savant could hardly speak or understand words, yet he played flawlessly a simple piano melody from memory despite hearing it only once. In an encore, he added left-hand chords and transposed it into a minor key.
‘Music,’ says Prof. Mithen, ‘can exist within the brain in the absence of language,’ a sign that the two evolved independently. And since language impairment does not wipe out musical ability, the latter ‘must have a longer evolutionary history.’

I can’t find the actual published paper but this coverage is from the Post-Gazette of Pittsburgh. Science Journal: Caveman crooners may have aided early human life
Previously on Myomancy: Mozart Effect Reprise, Mozart Effect Reprise Reprise


  1. Adena

    you can’t find steve mithen’s published paper because it doesn’t exist– he wrote a book. It is called “The Singing Neanderthal”– although I do not agree with many of his conclusions, it is a good read and an excellent review of literature.

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