Drumming Can Provide Behavioral Improvements for Young People with Autism

June 27, 2022

MRI Discovers Drum Training Synchronized Brain Regions, Preventing Impulsivity

A team of British researchers recently investigated the impact of drum training on behavior and brain function in adolescents with autism who had no prior drumming experience. This study recruited thirty-six subjects, randomly assigned to one of two groups, a drumming group, and a control group. Participants in the drumming group received individual drum lessons (two classes per week over eight weeks). The control group did not receive drumming instruction. All participants took part in a testing session before and after the eight-week treatment period. Each testing session included a drumming assessment, an MRI scan, and a parental questionnaire regarding the participants’ behavioral challenges. The study’s results showed that improvements in drumming performance were associated with a notable reduction in hyperactivity and inattention in participants in the drumming group compared to those in the control group. The MRI results demonstrated increased functional connectivity in brain regions responsible for inhibitory control, action outcomes monitoring, and self-regulation in the drumming group. Specifically, the study’s authors discovered the drummers had increased functional connectivity in the right inferior frontal gyrus and the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Additionally, a multivariate analysis demonstrated significant changes in the medial frontal cortex, the left and right paracingulate cortex, the subcallosal cortex, the left frontal pole, the caudate, and the left nucleus accumbens. The authors concluded that drum-based interventions should warrant more research and trials to benefit populations with inhibition-related disorders and emotional/behavioral difficulties like autism. 

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