The advantages of playing music soothe your brain more than any other activity. Learning an instrument boosts up resilience to all age-related ailments regarding the hearing.
Brain training is a huge business. Organizations like BrainHQ, Lumosity, and Cogmed are parts of a multimillion-dollar trade that may surpass $3 billion by 2020. But do they offer anything to benefit your brain in reality?
Researchers don’t think so. Rather, the University of Illinois found out that there’s less or zero evidence that these games develop anything more than the specific tasks being trained. Lumosity’s maker was even fined $2 million for fake claims.
So, if these brain games fail, then what will keep your brain sharp? The reply? Learning to play a musical instrument.
Why Being a Musician Is Good for Your Brain?
Science has proved that musical training can modify brain structure and function for the better. It can also develop long-term memory and contribute to better brain development for those who start at a tender age.
Musicians tend to be more mentally cautious, according to new research from a University of Montreal study.
Lead researcher Simon Landry believes that the more we know about the impact of music on really basic sensory processes, the more we can apply musical training to individuals who may have slower reaction times. As people grow older their reaction times tend to get slower. So if we realize that playing a musical instrument enhances reaction times, then maybe playing an instrument could be effective for them.
Earlier, Landry discovered that musicians possess quicker auditory, tactile, and audio-tactile reaction times. Musicians are also benefited by a modified statistical use of multisensory information. This makes them better at integrating the inputs from different senses.
According to Neuropsychologist Catherine Loveday of the University of Westminster, the music probably does something unique by stimulating the brain substantially due to our emotional connection with it.
Dissimilar to brain games, playing an instrument is a rich and complex experience. This is due to the integration of information from the senses of vision, hearing, and touch, along with fine movements. This can lead to long-lasting alterations in the brain. It can experiment in the business world.
Changes in the Brain
Brain scans have been able to figure out the variations in brain structure between musicians and non-musicians. The corpus callosum, a massive bundle of nerve fibres connecting the two sides of the brain, is bigger among musicians. Also, the areas involving movement, hearing, and visuospatial abilities seem to be larger among professional keyboard players.
At the outset, these studies couldn’t establish whether these differences were due to musical training or whether anatomical differences predispose some to become musicians. However, longitudinal studies proved that children who undergo 14 months of musical training could demonstrate more powerful structural and functional brain changes.
These studies reveal that learning a musical instrument enhances grey matter volume in different areas of the brain. It also nourishes the long-range connections between them. Some researches prove that musical training can intensify verbal memory, spatial reasoning, and literacy skills.
Long-Lasting Benefits for Musicians
Brain-scanning studies reveal that the anatomical change in musicians’ brains depends on the age when training started. Learning at a tender age leads to the most effective changes.
Also, short periods of musical training can have long-lasting benefits. A 2013 study elaborated that even people with moderate musical training preserved sharp processing of speech sounds. It was also able to increase resilience to any age-related decline in hearing.
Researchers also found that playing music facilitates speech processing and learning in children with dyslexia. Learning to play an instrument as a child can shield the brain against dementia.
Other Ways Learning an Instrument Strengthens Your Brain
There are eight more methods by which learning an instrument reinforces your brain.
1. Cement bonds with others. Your favourite band can only make a record when they have contact, coordination, and cooperation with each other.
2. Boosts memory and reading skills. The Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University opines this is due to the relation of music and reading via common neural and cognitive mechanisms.
3. Playing music makes you cheerful. McMaster University found babies undergoing interactive music classes demonstrated better early communication skills. They also smile more.
4. Musicians can do multiple things at a time. As mentioned before, this is due to playing music processing your multiple senses at once. This can contribute to superior multisensory skills.
5. Music enhances the blood flow of your brain. It has been discovered that short bursts of musical training increase the blood flow to the left hemisphere of the brain, which can be helpful when you urgently need energy.
6. Music facilitates the recovery of the brain. Motor control improved in everyday activities with stroke patients.
7. Music minimizes stress and depression. Research among cancer patients discovered that listening to and playing music reduced anxiety. 8. Musical training equips the brain’s executive function. The executive function covers critical tasks like processing and retaining information, controlling behaviour, making decisions, and problem-solving.