10 Ways That #Musical Training Boosts #Brain Power


(The following excerpt from 10 Ways That Musical Training Boosts Brain Power by Christopher Bergland recently appeared on psychologytoday.com. To view it in its entirety click on the link below.)

Did you play a musical instrument when you were growing up? Do you continue to play an instrument today? Neuroscientists continue to find evidence that musical training tremendously benefits a child’s brain development in ways that can improve cognitve function throughout his or her lifespan.

As the father of a 7-year-old, I am grateful that my daughter is fortunate enough to have access to musical training and has developed a love of playing both the piano and violin.

Unfortunately, budget cuts have put music and art classes on the back burner for most of our nation’s students. Research from the U.S. Department of Education found that 75 percent of U.S. high school students “rarely or never” take extracurricular lessons in music or the arts.

Budget cuts that reduce music programs may backfire in the long run. Musical training lays down neural scaffolding that improves the brain’s ability to hardwire connections between various brain regions. Musical training improves brain power across the board and also nurtures one’s ability to be creative and think outside the box.

It’s no coincidence that Einstein was a master violinist and a revolutionary physicist. Albert Einstein’s mother was a talented musician who made musical expression a part of daily home life when her children were growing up.

Albert Einstein began playing the violin when he was 6-years-old. By the age of 13, he was playing Mozart’s sonatas. Einstein once said, “Life without playing music is inconceivable to me. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music … I get most joy in life out of music.”

An October 2013 study (link is external) found that Albert Einstein’s brilliance may be linked to the fact that his brain hemispheres were extremely well-connected. The ability to use right brain creativity and left brain logic simultaneously may have been part of what made Einstein an incredible genius.

More and more studies are linking musical training with improved brain function and higher academic achievement. Practicing a musical instrument regularly engages all four hemispheres of your brain at an electrical, chemical and architectural level which optimizes brain power.

Musical training also improves focus, reduces stress, and could be an antidote for the pressure that children feel to do well on standardized testing as part of No Child Left Behind and the Common Core Standards.

Ten Ways That Musical Training Boosts Brain Power

1. Improves Verbal Memory and Childhood Literacy
2. Babies Who Have Music Lessons Smile More and Communicate Better
3. Benefits Brain Plasticity Throughout a Lifespan
4. Trained Musicians Have Superior Multisensory Processing Skills
5. Improves White Matter Connectivity
6. Increases Blood Flow in the Brain
7. Improves Executive Function
8. Thickens Gray Matter of the Cortex
9. Reduces Academic Achievement Gaps
10. Orchestrates Coordinated Neuroplasticity in the Aging Brain

I compiled the list above in chronological order. There has been so much research on this topic in recent years. I wanted to create a timeline that shows the evolution of these findings in recent years.



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