Okay, musicians, go ahead and toot your horn (so to speak). This study found an association between being able to “keep time” and one’s intelligence. The researchers indicated the ability of good timing is associated with problem-solving and reasoning skills. The study did not examine musical ability per se, just the ability to demonstrate rhythmic accuracy. The researchers found that the higher the intelligence of a subject, the more accurate they were in marking time with their own tapping. From the article:
According to Fredrik Ullén, the results suggest that the rhythmic accuracy in brain activity observable when the person just maintains a steady beat is also important to the problem-solving capacity that is measured with intelligence tests.
"We know that accuracy at millisecond level in neuronal activity is critical to information processing and learning processes," he says.
They also demonstrated a correlation between high intelligence, a good ability to keep time, and a high volume of white matter in the parts of the brain's frontal lobes involved in problem solving, planning and managing time.
"All in all, this suggests that a factor of what we call intelligence has a biological basis in the number of nerve fibres in the prefrontal lobe and the stability of neuronal activity that this provides," says Fredrik Ullén.
What would be interesting is an examination of whether lessons in such timing skills, most likely through music lessons, improves: A) this skill (i.e. how much is timing innate versus learned); B) general intelligence (i.e. does improving rhythmic timing increase one’s overall intelligence, at least in the areas of problem-solving and reasoning); and C) one’s amount of white matter. If so, it bolsters the argument that participating in creative endeavors , particularly as a child, improves one’s overall intellectual prospects.
Then again, this study was completed in Sweeden. Were they not responsible for these rhythmic assaults (see below) that bordered on a declaration of war?