Music & Brain Development

For some time now, scientists believed music was good for our brains. Now they’re sure. Newer, bigger, and better machines are finding mind-blowing things going on between our ears. When you play music, you use fine motor skills controlled by the creative and analytic hemispheres of your brain. There’s language involved, and math, too. Plus, feeling, memory, and a lot of everything else your brain can do.

Music & Brain Development

For some time now, scientists believed music was good for our brains. Now they’re sure. Newer, bigger, and better machines are finding mind-blowing things going on between our ears. When you play music, you use fine motor skills controlled by the creative and analytic hemispheres of your brain. There’s language involved, and math, too. Plus, feeling, memory, and a lot of everything else your brain can do.

Here’s Why Musicians Have Better Brains

When scientists look at brains using FMRIs and PET scans while subjects are doing normal things, the parts of the noggin associated with those things light up as expected.

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When You Listen to Music – Light Show!

When the subjects are listening to music, there’s a light show going on! Doctors figure this happens because our brains break down what we’re hearing into its different parts, analyze those parts, and then put them back together before it’s time for the first foot tap or booty shake.

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But When You Play Music – Fireworks!

When the subjects play music, stand back. We’re talking 4th of July level fireworks! Playing an instrument involves doing lots of things at once. It’s like a full-body workout for the brain. Different areas of the brain get into the act.

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What you’ve got is an experience like nothing else.

When you play music, you use fine motor skills controlled by the creative and analytic hemispheres of your brain. There’s language involved, and math, too. Plus, feeling, memory, and a lot of everything else your brain can do. In fact, playing music strengthens the *corpus callosum*, the link between the two halves. Scientists are seeing all kinds of new connections being made as people play music.

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Musicians develop higher executive functions.

This makes musicians great problem-solvers in school and social situations. Musicians develop higher executive functions. Musicians get mad skills at interlinked tasks like planning, strategizing, and paying attention to detail because they benefit from learning to quickly handle both cognitive and emotional elements at the same time.

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And musicians also process memories differently.

When musicians process memories, they tend to use an unusual tagging system that lets them file memories in multiple categories.

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Conclusion?

There’s an obvious conclusion to draw. Playing music is uniquely great for developing a person’s brain, young or old. Studies show that anyone who takes up an instrument is likely to enhance their brainpower.

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CREDITSThis is a TED Ed video by Anita Collins. (Don’t be confused — it’s narrated by a guy, Addison Anderson.) TedEd is on Facebook and Twitter. The animation is by Sharon Colman Graham. Thumbnail image by Mike Goren. Boy at piano image by Flickr user woodleywonderworks, and drummer picture by Steven Pisano, both used under Creative Common license. Fireworks brain image via Thinkstock. Ed Sheeran photo available for use via Creative Commons.