In a world of contrasting opinions, it's difficult to know how you can truly keep your brain sharp as you age. Contrary to popular belief - and the efforts of big business - researchers have found little evidence supporting the idea that exercises like virtual brain games or training activities benefit your brain.
But if brain games are a farce, what can you do to keep your brain in tip-top form? The answer? Playing a musical instrument.
Learning to play and consistently practice an instrument has been proven to alter brain functioning for the better. Studies conducted at the University of Montreal affirm that musicians tend to be more mentally alert, possessing enhanced auditory, tactile, and audio-tactile reaction times and skills. Music effectively stimulates the brain because of its unique ability to pull us in. As humans, we all have a deep-rooted emotional connection to music. We can feel it in us.
With this in mind, it’s easy to recognize that brain games lack the necessary elements which constitute a rich and complex experience. Playing an instrument requires the use of eyes, ears, mouth, and other extremities to perform coordinated motor functions. Regularly repeating these complex functions result in powerful, long-lasting changes in the brain. Reputably, the greatest difference in brain structure from musicians to non-musicians is larger strings of nerve fiber connecting one side of the brain to the other. In concrete terms, playing music physically changes your brain, leading to increased verbal memory, spatial reasoning, and literacy skills.
Studies show that younger individuals who consistently learn and practice an instrument early on in life will experience the most impactful brain development. For example, playing music has proven to help develop speech processing and learning in children with dyslexia. The process of learning an instrument as a child can even defend the brain from illnesses like dementia.
Additional ways music or playing an instrument strengthens your brain include:
Promotes connection with others. Think of your favorite band and how their communication, coordination, and harmony produce great music.
Increases memory and reading skills. Music and reading utilize standard neural and cognitive mechanisms.
Naturally increases happiness. Music can naturally make you smile.
Enhances multi-functioning. Consistently using multiple functions at once increases multi-sensory skills.
Improves blood flow in the brain. Small bursts of musical training enhance blood flow in the brain, making it a natural energy booster.
Helps in recovering from brain injuries. Music helps re-acquire important motor functions.
Reduces stress and depression. Studies show that playing or listening to music reduces levels of anxiety and depression.
Strengthens the brain's executive functioning. Processing information, retaining information, making decisions, and problem-solving increase through music exposure.
So do it for your brain! A lifetime love of playing music begins the moment you pick up an instrument. Matt Burk Music Studio can help you learn how to play it. Experts music lessons for all ages in Plano, Frisco, and Allen, Texas. We proudly teach piano, bass guitar, drums, guitar, violin, voice and songwriting. Contact us to schedule a FREE introductory lesson.