Victor Hugo wrote, “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.” As an outpouring of the mind and mode of expression for the heart, music has long been an integral part of human existence. Shared by those who sing and play instruments as well as their audiences, music has brought people solace, happiness, excitement, motivation, and enjoyment. Moreover, music is not merely good for the soul; it has been proven to improve cognitive skills.
Music Affects Brain Functions
A recent study at Toronto’s Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute reveals that learning to play a musical instrument can quickly benefit brain function. This study offers what other lab evidence has also supported. That is, learning to play a musical instrument affects and develops various cognitive tasks. Evidence has also pointed to the protective effects against the mental decline that musical training in their younger years has provided older people.
Music May Improve Brain Functions
In his research on the cognitive functions of musicians at the University of Montreal, Simon Landry discovered that musicians possess quicker auditory, tactile and audio-tactile reaction times than those of other people, apparently developed from their musical skills which include the use of multisensory information. With these quicker reaction times, musicians can better integrate inputs from different senses than can others.
Benefits of Playing Musical Instruments
Another study at Toronto’s Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute demonstrated that learning to play a musical instrument has the potential of producing immediate improvements in brain function. As subjects learned to reproduce sounds and rhythms on musical instruments, there were alterations in audio-induced brain waves, resulting in improved connectivity between sensorimotor and auditory areas. However, such changes did not occur in those subjects who reproduced the sounds by using a computer. Additional research revealed that training in music has the potential of increasing verbal memory, literacy skills, and spatial reasoning. Further evidence from the same study demonstrated that playing a musical instrument improves various cognitive functions as it integrates information from three of the five senses: hearing, touch, and vision. These many benefits from playing musical instruments thus pose the possibility of employing musical rehabilitation for those who suffer from brain trauma.