We’ve all heard that regular exercise, limiting booze and playing Sudoku are good for the brain. But what about music?
It is now believed that playing an instrument or singing can give the brain a vital boost by creating greater functional connectivity between its regions.
Similarly, neurologists discovered that perfect pitch – the ability to identify a note simply by the sound – has the same affect on the brain and its heightened activity.
Prior to this latest experiment, music was known to impact mood due to the increase of happy-hormone dopamine being released while playing or listening to it.
Now, this state-of-the-art analysis has gone one step further to show the synchronised activity between brain hemispheres and regions during musical training.
The researchers at the University of Zurich said they found “robust effects of musicianship in inter and intra hemispheric connectivity in both structural and functional networks”.
While that might sound like a little too much jargon, in layman’s terms, the experiment showed that a musician’s brain is shaped by their experience of playing.
Simply, by training we can change the way our brains are wired.
The neurologists also discovered that children learning music at a young age, even if they quit during adolescence, maintain the effects that it had on the brain in later life.
In particular, the study showed that musical training produces stronger structural connections whereby certain areas of the brain have to work together to perform complex cognitive tasks, and that this neural-plasticity translates into other areas outside of music.
Who knows, if music becomes part of the national curriculum, we could be seeing more mini Einstein successors than ever before.