“Nothing activates the brain so extensively as music,” says Oliver Sacks, M.D., professor of neurology at Columbia University and author of Musicophilia. Traditionally, parents believed that distractors have negative effects for children. “Rather than just assuming it’s better for a child with ADHD to do their homework in complete silence, it may help their concentration to let them listen to music,” Pelham said a Professor in Psychology and Psychiatry and Director for the Center For Children and Families .
Music can have positive effects for children with ADHD. Listening to music increases dopamine in the brain. This neurotransmitter helps with attention, working memory and motivation. The brain on individuals who have ADHD lack dopamine so children with ADHD can use music to train their brain for stronger focus and self control. Music also has an expected rhythm and helps stops the brain from thinking a million thoughts at once. By listening to the expected rhythm, you are not trying to figure out the next note, instead it allows the mind to focus on one task that you need. Music works by releasing dopamine to a higher level than one may have thus helping you to concentrate more. Music also helps provide structure which is soothing to an ADHD brain struggling to regulate itself. The structure helps the ADHD child to plan, anticipate and react.
A lot of parents and even professionals believe that individuals with ADHD should be free from distractions and should only tackle one task at once. Research however shows that music can have positive gains for those diagnosed with ADHD. Concentration and increased mood can result from the release of dopamine in the brain while listening to music. Of course, every person with ADHD is unique and for some music may not help them to better focus or concentrate. It is important to try different things to see which approach is better for your child.
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Last reviewed: 24 Apr 2014