Music improves brain health and function in many ways. It makes you smarter, happier and more productive at any age. Listening is good, playing is even better.
Music has played an important part of every human culture, both past and present.
People around the world respond to music in a universal way.
And now, advances in neuroscience enable researchers to quantitatively measure just how music affects the brain.
The interest in the effects of music on the brain has led to a new branch of research called neuromusicology which explores how the nervous system reacts to music.
And the evidence is in — music activates every known part of the brain.
Listening to and playing music can make you smarter, happier, healthier and more productive at all stages of life.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the latest findings on the ways both playing and listening to music can enhance the form and function of your brain.
Why Musicians Have Healthier Brains
If you want evidence of how music affects the brain, it makes sense to look at the brains of those who play a lot of music — professional musicians.Brain scans show that their brains are different than those of non-musicians.
Musicians have bigger, better connected, more sensitive brains.
Musicians have superior working memory, auditory skills, and cognitive flexibility.
Their brains are noticeably more symmetrical and they respond more symmetrically when listening to music.
Areas of the brain responsible for motor control, auditory processing, and spatial coordination are larger.
Musicians also have a larger corpus callosum.
This is the band of nerve fibers that transfers information between the two hemispheres of the brain.
This increase in size indicates that the two sides of musicians’ brain are better at communicating with each other.
While most of us aren’t professional musicians, we still listen to a lot of music — on average of 32 hours per week.
This is enough time for music to have an effect on the brains of non-musicians as well.