If you are really into music, whether it is actually practicing or just listening to it, no doubt you have felt its positive effects time and again. It has long been a firm perception that musical education greatly improves the cognitive and psychological areas of human development. It is only recently that a lot of scientific research has started coming up to back this claim. Here are a few things you didn’t know music does to empower you as a human being:

1. Practicing music from an early age has an exceptional effect on mental development

girl small guitar
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A comprehensive analysis by KatrinHille published in Advances in Cognitive Psychology demonstrated the association between musical education, intelligence, and spelling ability amongst toddlers of elementary school. This is only one of the numerous studies demonstrating the effect of music learning on children and young adults.

At an impressionable age, learning music fashions the neural passageways of the brain, leading to flexibility in thinking, quick grasping of concepts, and an enhancement of patio-temporal reasoning. Is there any more motivation required for sending your kid to piano or guitar lessons?

2. Musical education greatly improves both short term and long term memory

The limbic system, located inside the medial temporal lobe of the brain, is responsible for controlling memory in humans. The main element of the limbic system is the hippocampus, which is crucial for supervising long term memory.

A study by a team from the Academy of Finland demonstrated the effect of music listening on a group of adults. The study showed how recognizable beats and notes where registered in the hippocampus, which became activated as soon as a familiar theme was played or re-played. This effect of music on memory is translated on to non-musical learning activities as well, helping us retain complex data and bring it to the surface of the mind quickly.

Not only does music education help counter cases of advanced forgetfulness like Alzheimer’s and dementia in old people, it also helps in improving working memory and long term memory.

3. Musical training is a great therapy for trauma

playing music for patients
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

We all know that listening to music helps relieve stress and anxiety, right? But if you thought this was only momentary, take a look at the effect of music therapy on people suffering from advanced psychological disorders, like trauma, bipolar disorder, depression, etc.

  • Listening to music activates the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain, which regulates several important hormones with connections to the psyche, such as adrenalin, endorphin, and serotonin.
  • Dopamine deficiency results in lower concentration, mood swings, and cognitive disorders like Parkinson’s.
  • Music training also helps you counter addiction related problems, as dopamine deficiency leads to addiction.

So being addicted to music actually helps counter other addictions! Bet you didn’t know that, eh?

4. Music helps in greater hand-eye co-ordination

Hand-eye co-ordination, according to The Encyclopedia of Children’s Health “is the ability of the vision system to coordinate the information received through the eyes to control, guide, and direct the hands in the accomplishment of a given task.”

Learning a music instrument, (and piano is really the best one for this) helps to get more control of our motor skills by re-structuring the motor cortex of the brain (especially if you start training young.) This is because learning music involves doing a lot of things at once—listening to variant notes, processing them, reading the music sheet, coordinating the notes on paper with the sound of the keys, and remembering the notes.

This makes a lot of cognitive areas of the brain work in tandem. This flexibility and greater co-ordination help in achieving other tasks as well; such as catching a ball, putting shapes together, and analyzing disparate data to create meaning.

5. Practicing music enhances creativity

boy playing guitar
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While any kind of co-curricular activity enhances creativity, lateral and divergent thinking, those practicing a musical instrument are especially prone to apply out-of-the-box and innovative ideas. When you are exposed to varying notes and harmonies from marvelous composers, you learn the relationship between mathematics and the synergy of sound.

Music education helps lateral thinking processes, whereby you start developing alternate approaches to a question to come up with innovative solutions. This is because music involves a huge amount of learning permutations and combinations, and solving rhythmic problems by applying both cognitive and perceptive skills. With a greater interaction between these elements of the brain, your thinking automatically grows more diverse than a simple head-on response to a particular problem.

Featured Image: Image Credit

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