People who performed better on rhythmic tests also showed enhanced neural responses to speech sounds.
The researchers suggest that practising music could improve other skills, particularly reading.
In the Journal of Neuroscience, the authors argue that rhythm is an integral part of language.
"We know that moving to a steady beat is a fundamental skill not only for music performance but one that has been linked to language skills," said Nina Kraus, of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University in Illinois.
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