A new study shows that studying music at a young age could directly correlate with improved cognitive functions and the development of speech, language and memory skills.

Published in the National Academy of Sciences, the study was conducted between two groups of high school students, one of which participated in a music training program while the other partook in a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program.

The study measured how the students responded to a variety of tests -- which assessed their language and memory skills -- before and after the three-year programs. One test required students to come up with new words by removing a syllable from an existing word, while another tested their memory skills by having the students repeat back a set of non-English words.

While both groups of students’ language skills improved over the course of the programs, the group in the music training program showed even greater improvements in their phonological abilities -- or rather their ability to recognize and manipulate the sounds that make up words. Such skills can help build students' reading skills and help them learn a second language.

“Music could potentially function as a training ground for language skills and may potentially offer an effective, economical and enjoyable activity that could help improve language skills in children around the world if employed in schools,” Amy Spray writes for the Washington Post. “Giving adolescents musical training could help kick-start and accelerate maturation of their brains.”