Music Can Keep Your Brain Younger for Longer
If you are a lover of fine music you are indeed in good company with Albert Einstein who once declared, “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician.” Research proves that when you listen to music, your brain releases dopamine which is a feel-good neurotransmitter. Valorie Salimpoor, a neuroscientist at McGill University, injected a radioactive substance that binds to dopamine into 8 music-lovers right after they listened to their favourite music. A PET scan indicated that huge amounts of dopamine were released which literally caused the participants in the study to experience emotions such as excitement, happiness and joy.
Apart from the obvious enjoyment one experiences while listening to, and learning to play a musical instrument, music holds an array of other benefits as well. It not only has the ability to decrease stress levels but can even go as far as to boost the immune system and keeping your cognitive functions in tip-top shape, making your brain function in a manner that is years younger than its biological age.
Why Being a Musician Is Good For Your Brain
Science has shown us that playing a musical instrument can alter the brain structure and functioning for the better. It also improves long-term memory and aids brain development for those who start playing at a young age, keeping your brain in good shape well into your senior years. Musicians tend to generally be more mentally alert due to the impact music has on the most basic of sensory processes. As people get older their reaction times decrease, playing musical instruments can assist with that. Musicians, whether professional or those who just play for leisure, tend to have faster tactile, auditory and audio-tactile reaction times. Playing an instrument is a rich and complex experience that can trigger long-term changes in the brain. While there are many ways to keep the brain young and active, music is without a doubt the most profound one.
Changes in the brain
Brain scans have successfully been able to identify the difference in brain structure between musicians and non-musicians. The most noticeable difference is that the corpus callosum, a huge bundle of nerve fibers connecting the two sides of the brain, is significantly larger in musicians. Studies conducted reiterated that learning to play a musical instrument increases grey matter volume in various regions of the brain and also strengthens the long-range connections between them, boosting verbal, memory, literacy skills and spatial reasoning, especially among older individuals.
Long lasting benefits of playing musical instruments
While the anatomical change in the human brain is related to the age at which training began the rewards of musical interaction can be reaped throughout one’s lifetime irrespective of the commencement of training. Even short periods of training can have long-term benefits with studies indicating that individuals with moderate musical training are able to preserve sharp processing of speech sounds and also proved to be more resilient to age-related hearing impairment.
Music reaches parts of the brain that nothing else can. It is a strong cognitive stimulant that grows the brains in ways nothing else has been able to and there is no denying the evidence that underline the countless benefits playing an instrument has on the human mind.