Learning to play a musical instrument can help children to learn languages by increasing the brain's sensitivity to sounds including speech.
Music lessons could have a direct impact on a child's ability to learn languages by affecting the mind's sensitivity to all sounds, scientists have claimed.
Tests revealed that exposure to music can be beneficial to the brain in its developmental stages, and would have advantages for all children, including those who are dyslexic and autistic.
Researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago, America, established a link between musical ability and the capacity of the nervous system to take in sound patterns.
Professor Nina Kraus, who led the team, said playing an instrument had an impact on automatic processing in the brainstem, the lower section of the brain which governs breathing, the heartbeat and reaction to sounds.
She said: "Playing music engages the ability to extract relevant patterns, such as the sound of one's own instrument, harmonies and rhythms, from the 'soundscape.
"Playing an instrument may help youngsters better process speech in noisy classrooms and more accurately interpret the nuances of language that are conveyed by subtle changes in the human voice."
A National Autistic Society spokeswoman said many children with autism respond well to music.
She said: "It seems that music can help children to communicate and interact with those around them, relax or to express emotions."