Tuesday, May 08, 2018 by Jessica Dolores
Music has charms to soothe the savage beast, so wrote the playwright-poet William Congreve. Science has shown that music can also heal and slow down the aging process. But new research has found one more reason to learn this universal language: Music can actually make you smarter.
Researchers from the University of Granada observed the neurological changes that occur due to prolonged musical training. The first-of-its-kind study showed that music helps people solve problems better. That’s because musicians enjoy higher neural connectivity than non-musicians, and therefore have an easier time with mental activities.
Scientists from the Mind, Brain and Behaviour Research Centre and the Department of History and Music Science studied 142 students in many music schools like the “Victoria Eugenia” Royal Conservatory of Music in Granada, the Conservatory of Music in Málaga, and the University of Granada’s Bachelor’s Degree in the History and Science of Music department. The students had formal music training for at least ten years, and learned to play an instrument in the process.
Participants underwent a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) along with several neuro-psychological, behavioral, and hearing tests. A laterality test determined if they were left or right-handed. Results showed that musicians have higher neural connectivity than non-musicians in the default mode network, the brain system which leads to more complex cognitive processes like making crucial decisions or figuring out daily problems. (Related: Music Shown to Facilitate the Development of Neurons in the Brain.)
Miriam Albusac Jorge, the study’s main author, explains that these higher cognitive processes consist of the brain’s most complex tasks which need not just one, but “multiple brain interactions.”
A 2016 study at the University of Southern California’s Brain and Creativity Institute revealed that childhood musical experiences can enhance brain development, especially where language and reading skills are concerned. The National Association of Music Merchants Foundation (NAMM) adds that learning to play a musical instrument can enhance math skills, and even raise an adolescent’s SAT scores.
Music let’s a child’s body and mind work together. Children learn not just the sounds, but the meaning of words. Dancing to the rhythm of the music also develops motor skills and helps children express themselves in non-verbal ways. Children and adults sharpen their memory skills by remembering the sequence of notes in the musical scale.
Here’s a stage-by-stage guide on how to take your child on a musical adventure he will remember long after he’s grown up.
Whether you’re 16 or 60, you’ll never go wrong with music. This food for the soul is something we can’t have too much of.