It's difficult to know how to truly keep your brain sharp as you age in a world full of opposing viewpoints. Contrary to popular belief – and despite the efforts of big business – researchers have found little evidence to support the idea that exercises such as virtual brain games or training activities are beneficial to your brain.
But, if brain games are a sham, what can you do to keep your brain in peak condition? What is the solution? Performing on a musical instrument.
Learning to play an instrument and consistently practising it has been shown to improve brain function. According to University of Montreal research, musicians are more mentally alert, with faster auditory, tactile, and audio-tactile reaction times and skills. Music effectively stimulates the brain due to its unique ability to draw us in. As humans, we all have a strong emotional connection to music. It's there in our bones.
Given this, it's easy to see how brain games lack the elements that contribute to a rich and complex experience. The coordination of the eyes, ears, mouth, and other extremities is required when playing an instrument. Repeating these complex functions on a regular basis results in powerful, long-lasting brain changes. Larger strings of nerve fibre connecting one side of the brain to the other are thought to be the most significant difference in brain structure between musicians and non-musicians. Playing music physically alters your brain, resulting in better verbal memory, spatial reasoning, and literacy abilities.
According to research, younger people who consistently learn and practise an instrument early in life have the most impact on their brain development. Playing music, for example, has been shown to aid in the development of speech processing and learning in children with dyslexia. Learning an instrument as a child can even protect the brain from diseases like dementia.
Other ways music or playing an instrument can help 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 the sake of your brain! The moment you pick up an instrument, you begin a lifetime love of music. Matt Burk Music Studio can teach you how to play. Music lessons for all ages from experts in Plano, Frisco, and Allen, Texas. We are proud to offer piano, bass guitar, drums, guitar, violin, voice, and songwriting lessons. Please contact us to arrange a FREE introductory lesson.