I’m sure you’ve heard it before; “Music is good for your brain!” But what exactly does that mean? Is it just good for counting, “and a 1, and a 2, and a 3, and a 4… ?” I learned that basic structure in Kindergarten. Surely the scope of music’s benefit to the mind goes beyond that… Well, it turns out the rabbit hole goes deeper - way deeper - than we originally thought.
One noticeable result in the musician vs. the non-musician population is the corpus callosum, the part of the brain that connects both sides of the brain, becomes larger. It’s function is to transmit signals between the brain’s hemispheres and to coordinate different functions of the brain: mainly cognitive, motor, and sensory information used by the body. It has been suggested that since musicians require all of these brain functions, it leads to the development in growth.
More Brain Growth
An additional study, done on a group of 6-year old children, showed a definite improvement in the regions of the brain associated with hearing and dexterity. All of the children started off without any knowledge of musicianship. Then they were divided into a control group and a test group. The test group was given 15 months worth of weekly keyboard lessons, while the control group did not. After those 15 months, an MRI was taken. When the results were compared, the children who underwent lessons now had proof of their superior, musically-powered, brain.
Like a Christmas Tree
That old saying, “you only use 10% of your brain”, turns out to be hogwash. Music has the ability to light up multitudes of areas of your brain. These areas range from emotional processing, to creativity, to motor skills. Previously, we focused on people who played instruments. What’s even better about lighting your brain’s neural networks like a Christmas tree is that anyone who even listens to music benefits.
Finding the type of music that you enjoy listening to can give your brain an idea of what the fountain of youth is like. While listening to your favorite Spotify playlist, 2000s mix CD, or worn out cassette, your brain gains the ability to reorganize and/or form new synaptic connections. This is called neuroplasticity. The younger we are, the more flexible our brains are in terms of forming those all important synapses and transmitting signals throughout the brain. As we age, that ability declines. However, that nostalgic 8-track your parents still have may be the key to you gaining that cerebral edge.
- Kenon Koffkey, Marketing Contractor at Vibe Music Academy.