Brain power. Wish you had more? Everyone does! We all wish our memories were sharper and that our brains would never get tired.
Throughout the years, our society has come up with all kinds of ideas to give us the boost we are wanting. There are certainly plenty of pills (all-natural and synthetic) that are available on the market.
Others take a different approach by practicing yoga or various kinds of meditation.
A New Approach to Brain Power
Here’s an approach that most people haven’t heard about. Did you know that playing and listening to music has an incredible effect on our brains?
A group of researchers set out to determine what happened to the brains of children who spent time practicing the piano and other stringed instruments. The results were fascinating!
With the help of MRI scans, the team of scientists, led by Gottfried Schlaug, discovered that kids who practiced 2 or more hours a week over a 30-month period were found to have greater structural growth in their brains than kids who played less than 2 hours or no time at all.
Training to play an instrument is believed to increase gray matter volume in certain areas of the brain, not unlike how physical exercise can tone and enlarge muscles. As a result, musicians often experience improvement in brain functions like:
- Auditory processing
Only 2 hours a week! For all you math people out there, that’s a mere 17 minutes a day.
John Hopkins and Brain Boost Research
Johns Hopkins is well known for their studies showing the effects of music on the brain. Researchers have had dozens of jazz performers and rappers improvise music while lying down inside an fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) machine to watch and see which areas of their brains light up.
“There are few things that stimulate the brain the way music does,” says one Johns Hopkins otolaryngologist. “If you want to keep your brain engaged throughout the aging process, listening to or playing music is a great tool. It provides a total brain workout.”
Alzheimers and Dementia and Music Brain Boosts
It has been proven that music even boosts the brain power of people with Alzheimers and Dementia. AlzheimersAndDementia.com reports that music can evoke emotion in even the most advanced of Alzheimer’s patients.
Neurologist Oliver Sacks says that “Music evokes emotion, and emotion can bring with it memory… it brings back the feeling of life when nothing else can. By pairing music with everyday activities, patients can develop a rhythm that helps them to the recall the memory of that activity, improving cognitive ability over time.’
Music keeps your mind sharp. This may explain why there are so many gray-haired musicians in orchestras around the world who can still perform at such a high caliber.
What is equally fascinating is that the brain boost received from music is not limited to a certain style. In fact, different styles give us different kinds of boosts.
Instrumental and peaceful music is great when you need to focus. At the same time, upbeat music can help you get ready for that same activity.
The Importance of Music to our Brains
As you can see, the act of learning to make music and even listening to music has a powerful effect on our brains. In a culture that is in many ways replacing the arts with other activities, it’s more important than ever that we encourage kids and adults alike to pursue music. The benefits are many and they are life-long.
Check out this awesome graphic put together by Ashford University.
For more information about Ken Reynolds and Reynolds Piano, visit www.reynoldspiano.com.
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