General, Research, Technology

How does music practice affect the human brain?

Many parents want their children to study inmusic school. Someone really wants the child to be able to fulfill his unattained dream. But most parents just hope that playing music will develop their son or daughter's intelligence. Indeed, in the course of numerous studies, it has been found that singing and playing musical instruments is good for the functioning of the brain. In a recent study, scientists were able to find out exactly which parts of the brain are activated during music lessons and what they are responsible for. As it turns out, there are indeed great benefits to be gained from studying music theory and playing musical instruments. Musicians not only stand out from the rest by their more developed intelligence, but also live longer.

Is there any benefit in having a child playing a musical instrument?

The wits of children

The results of the experiment werepublished in the scientific journal Frontiers in Neuroscience. A team of scientists led by violinist and neuroscientist Leonie Kausel gathered 40 children aged 10 to 13 for the study. Half of the volunteers took musical instrument lessons for at least two hours a week or were already playing in an orchestra. The rest of the children had no musical education. As part of the experiment, they were shown an abstract picture for four seconds and played a short sound. All this time, they monitored the activity of different parts of their brain using a functional magnetic tomography (fMRI) machine.

Musically educated children think slightly better than their peers

During the experiment, children could concentrateeither in the image or in the sound. They also had the opportunity not to focus their attention on anything. Two seconds after showing a picture or playing a sound, the children had to remember what they saw and heard. The researchers were interested in the accuracy of children's responses and the speed of their response. Almost all children responded equally quickly, but novice musicians memorized images and sounds more accurately. Brain scans have shown that several parts of the brain work well in children with musical education:

  • inferior frontal gyrus;
  • gyrus of the anterior and central part of the brain;
  • phonological loop structures.

The phonological loop is usually understood asa system that takes part in the processing of sounds and their memorization. Exactly how doing music improves the work of the aforementioned parts of the brain, scientists still do not know. But scientists plan to find out in other scientific studies. In addition, they want to find out if music lessons can be used to treat neurological disorders like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

See also: What do scientists know about people's musical tastes?

The benefits of music

Music affects not only the work of the headbrain, but also affects other organs of the human body. In 2019, scientists from the US state of California conducted a study that also involved 40 people. Each of them was asked to listen to three unfamiliar compositions. It turned out that the dynamics, timbre and speed and complexity of musical compositions have the greatest influence on the state of the human body. Depending on the song, people have an increased heart rate, sweaty palms and other changes in the body. Based on this, the scientists concluded that music can indeed influence human emotions, as well as increase various indicators such as strength and endurance. So, it’s okay to turn on “sports” playlists while running and doing other exercise.

But for creativity, music canweaken strongly. British scientists once conducted an experiment in which people were divided into two groups. They were given the task to combine three words like "dress", "watch" and "flowers" to make an associative word - for example, "sunflower". One group of people performed a creative task in a room with background music, and the second was thinking in silence. To the surprise of the researchers, the people in the quiet room did the job with great success. From this we can conclude that while working, some people are better off not listening to music, even instrumental.

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Finally, it should be noted that sometimesmusical instruments will come in handy even during surgical operations. Recently British surgeons asked a patient to play the violin during brain surgery. You can read about why this was necessary in this material.