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By: Dr. Stacey Naito – Physician and IFBB Pro
Play For Your Brain
Not all of us are able to play musical instruments well, but the challenge of learning to play one can be a fun hobby. Recent research suggests that people who play a musical instrument regularly, even if they aren’t musically gifted per se, are reinforcing their brain’s function at the same time.
Musical training is thought to increase neural connections in the brain which are associated with decision making, complex memory, and creativity. Musical education can even boost cognitive function in people who have suffered from strokes, and equip the brain to adapt by using intact brain regions.
Numerous studies have proven that the brains of musicians differ functionally and structurally from the brains of non-musicians. Skilled musicians are like athletes, because they need to coordinate multiple senses, and focus on complex elements like melody and tempo, while performing a piece.
There is also research which suggests that the areas used in musical performance are closely linked with other important cognitive functions. One study by Schaug discovered that musical disorders such as tone deafness affect about 4 to 10 percent of the population, which is the same percentage range seen with disabilities such as dyslexia and dyscalculia (math difficulties).
Another study, performed by Wang, examined the brains of 48 young adults who had studied music for at least one year between the ages of 3 and 15. The subjects who had begun musical training before the age of 7 had greater development in the areas of the brain associated with language and executive function.