Last update 26/8/2023
Studies indicate that the popular activity of learning to play a musical instrument will decrease the age-related decline in hearing for adults.
We are going to discuss why playing musical instruments helps your brain. Companies that are offering brain training are doing an enormous business. Companies such as Lumosity, BrainHQ, and Cogmed are parts of a business making millions. Those businesses are growing and are expected to exceed $3 billion by 2020.
However, do their programs for brain training benefit your brain?
Some researchers do not believe that they do. The University of Illinois has decided that little or no evidence supports the claims that these games help the brain. Lumosity was reportedly fined $2 million for making false claims.
Guitar for brain health
However, if brain games do not help brain and memory decline, what will help? Well, there is excellent news, research shows that learning to play a musical instrument is very good for our brains.
So why does playing musical instruments help your brain?
Science is about stringent proof and has supporting evidence that musical training does change the brain’s structure for the better, albeit for those who start early.
Science indicates that musical training can also improve our long-term memory and enjoy better brain development.
The University of Montreal
Furthermore, the University of Montreal study has indicated that musicians are, on average, mentally alert.
“The more we learn about the impact of music on fundamental sensory processes. Then the more we can apply musical training to individuals who might have slower reaction times,” said lead researcher Simon Landry.
“As people get older, for example, we know their reaction times get slower,” said Landry. “So if we know that playing a musical instrument increases reaction times, then maybe playing an instrument will be helpful for them.”
Landry’s earlier research indicated that musicians have faster auditory, audio-tactile, and tactile reaction times. Musicians seem to possess a changed, altered statistical use of their multisensory information. In summary, it seems to indicate they are very good at integrating their inputs from various other senses.
“Music probably does something unique,” “It strongly stimulates a musician’s brain due to our emotional connection with it.” explains neuropsychologist Catherine Loveday of the University of Westminster.
Unlike brain games, playing an instrument is a deep and complicated experience. This occurs because it amalgamates the information derived from the senses. Senses such as hearing, vision, touch, and fine movements. The net effect has long-lasting changes within the brain.
The changes within the brain
Brain scans have shown the differences in the brain structure between non-musicians and musicians, notably within the corpus callosum. An extensive group of nerve fibers connecting the two sides of the brain is more significant in musicians.
Furthermore, the areas of the brain involve visuospatial movement abilities. Also, hearing appears to be more pronounced amongst professional keyboard players.
At first, it was unclear if those studies concluded if the differences were due to musical training or if dues to anatomical variances predisposed people to become musicians.
However, long-term studies strongly indicated that children who were shown to do 14 months of musical training showed more noticeable and effective structural and functional changes in their brains.
The studies concluded that learning to play a musical instrument increases the volume of gray matter in different brain regions. Further research has shown that musical training can also enhance verbal memory, spatial reasoning, and literacy skills.
Guitar for brain health | The long-lasting benefits for musicians
Brain scan research indicates an anatomical change in musicians’ brains related to the age when the training began. Therefore, it shouldn’t be surprising that musicians who start learning younger show the most dramatic change.
Intriguingly, even short periods of musical training provide long-lasting benefits. A study conducted in 2013 showed that even musicians with only moderate musical training continued to maintain sharp processing of their speech sounds. It also indicated an increase in resilience for any age-related hearing decline.
Researchers have agreed that children with dyslexia benefit from playing music. It has also helped their speech processing and learning ability. Also, a child who learns to play an instrument early may help protect their brain against dementia.
“Music reaches parts of the brain that other things can’t,” “It’s a strong cognitive stimulus that grows the brain in a way that nothing else does, and the evidence that musical training enhances things like working memory and language is very robust,” says Loveday.
Are there any more benefits from learning to play an instrument that helps the brain?
It turns out the answer is yes.
Eight more ways learning a musical instrument helps to strengthen the brain.
It strengthens our bonds with people. This statement shouldn’t surprise us. As an analogy, think about one of your favorite bands. A band can only be successful when cooperating and coordinating with all the members.
Reading improves memory
It strengthens reading and memory skills. The Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University has said that reading and music are related via common cognitive and neural mechanisms.
It’s no surprise that playing music makes us feel good and happy. McMaster University determined that babies who participated in interactive music classes were better communicators with better early communication skills. Also, they smiled more.
Musicians seem to be more apt to multiskilled. It is believed that playing music improves the brain’s ability to process multiple senses simultaneously.
Music helps blood flow.
Music also increases the blood flow in our brains. Studies have shown that when short periods of musical training ensue, it increases the blood flow to the brain’s left hemisphere—accommodating when you are light for energy. Forget the energy drink and go and jam for 30 minutes.
Music does help the brain to recover. Stroke patients exhibit improved motor control during everyday activities.
Music does reduce depression and stress. A study group of cancer patients revealed that listening to and playing music reduced anxiety. A further study indicated that music therapy collectively lowered their levels of anxiety and depression.
Musical training has also been shown to strengthen the brain’s executive function. The executive function covers critical tasks such as retaining and processing information. Furthermore, it helps general behavior, decision-making, and problem-solving also. If maintained, you may well boost your overall longevity. In addition, musical training can also improve our executive functioning in both adults and children.
There is plenty of support for the information in this article. New research reveals that there is much we can do for our brain health. Exercise in general, reading and much before. The brain reacts in much the same way as the rest of the body. A healthy body typically equates to a healthy mind, an ancient cliche but true.
The good news is, that playing a musical instrument like the popular guitar is a healthy pastime. What more motivation do we all need.?
Think guitar for brain health.
How Playing an Instrument Affects Your Brain. (2021). Retrieved 22 November 2021, from https://www.brainfacts.org/neuroscience-in-society/the-arts-and-the-brain/2020/how-playing-an-instrument-affects-your-brain-111720
The Benefits of Playing Music Help Your Brain More Than Any Other Activity. (2021). Retrieved 22 November 2021, from https://www.inc.com/john-rampton/the-benefits-of-playing-music-help-your-brain-more.html