The Benefits of Learning to Play Music

 Musical experience positively shapes our central nervous systems

1. communication & learning

literacy (see Nina Kraus interview below)

2. improved hearing: distinguish meaningful sounds from background noise (see Nina Kraus interview above)

Nina Kraus, Professor of Neurobiology & Physiology, Otolaryngology and the Hugh Knowles Chair in Audiology at Northwestern University investigates the neurobiology underlying speech and music perception and learning-associated brain plasticity.

age related hearing loss (see Nina Kraus interview below)

3. improved auditory working memory (see Nina Kraus interview) This interview is particularly relevant in minutes 1:00 -8:00.

4. prevent dementia, ABC News coverage of scientific study link

5. increase the connections among the major parts of your brain

6. increase language skills, NYT article, link

7. improve verbal ability and pattern recognition, Harvard Study, link

8. highly developed brain function

9. better workouts, NYT article link

10. enhanced cognitive development in children: verbal memory and mathematical ability

11. improved attention

12. lower stress and increased feelings of well being

13. Improved attention, Stanford University, Music moves the brain to pay attention

Stanford Researchers put listeners into fMRI scanners to capture their brains listening to music.

 The team used music to help study the brain’s attempt to make sense of the continual flow of information the real world generates… The brain partitions information into meaningful chunks by extracting information about beginnings, endings and the boundaries between events…

In this foundational study, the researchers conclude that

“dynamic changes seen in the fMRI scans reflect the brain’s evolving responses to different phases of a symphony. An event change—the movement transition signaled by the termination of one movement, a brief pause, followed by the initiation of a new movement—activates the first network, called the ventral fronto-temporal network. Then a second network, the dorsal fronto-parietal network, turns the spotlight of attention to the change and, upon the next event beginning, updates working memory.”

 This 20-second clip of a subject’s fMRI illustrates how cognitive activity increases in anticipation of the transition points between movements.


What to read next:

Music and the Brain

How Music Moves Through the Brain

The Benefits of Listening to Music