You'll be a smarter adult because of it. "Use it or lose it, or lose it less quickly" :) Text below taken from this article --> Musicians' Brains Might Have an Edge on Aging
By Barbara Bronson Gray
Aug. 2 (HealthDay News) -- It's been said that music soothes the savage
beast, but if you're the one playing the instrument it might benefit
A growing body of evidence suggests that learning to play an
instrument and continuing to practice and play it may offer mental
benefits throughout life. Hearing has also been shown to be positively
affected by making music.
The latest study, published in the July issue of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience,
shows that musical instrument training may reduce the effects of mental
decline associated with aging. The research found that older adults who
learned music in childhood and continued to play an instrument for at
least 10 years outperformed others in tests of memory and cognitive
It also revealed that sustaining musical activity during
advanced age may enhance thinking ability, neutralizing any negative
impact of age and even lack of education. It's unclear, however, whether
starting an instrument in adulthood provides any mental advantages.
can change your brain," said study author Brenda Hanna-Pladdy, an
assistant professor of neurology, radiology and imaging sciences at
Emory University, in Atlanta.
The study confirms and refines findings from previous research published April 2011 in the journal Neuropsychology.
childhood, when the brain is still developing, it seems that learning a
musical instrument and continuing to play it for at least a decade or
more may lay the groundwork for benefits later in life, Hanna-Pladdy
said. But it's also valuable to then pick up the instrument in middle
age and start playing again, she noted.
In this study, 70
musicians and non-musicians aged 59 to 80 were evaluated by
neuropsychological tests and surveyed about general lifestyle
activities. The musicians scored higher on tests of mental acuity,
visual-spatial judgment, verbal memory and recall, and motor dexterity.
a flutist, became interested in studying the impact of music education
on the brain through her study of people with skilled movement
disorders, such as those who had suffered a stroke. She realized that
music could be a natural way to offer multi-sensory stimulation, an
effective way to treat such disorders. She then became interested in
learning more about the actual effect of musical training on the brain.
study music education as opposed to calculus or history? One reason is
that evaluating the impact of music education is relatively easy because
most people can specifically quantify the number of years they studied
an instrument, Hanna-Pladdy said. It's also simpler to quantify the time
spent playing music than hours devoted to other activities, such as
crossword puzzles, reading or playing games. "Musical activity requires
years of practice and is a challenging cognitive exercise," she said.
Grady, a senior scientist at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest
Centre, in Toronto, said the research confirms what has been known for
some time: Education can help protect against cognitive decline in older
Grady pointed out that it remains unclear what is
actually causing the beneficial effect. "We still don't know that much
about what actually happens in the brain. My hunch is that in terms of
these results, it has to do with the practicing, the continued
stimulation of the brain," she said.
She has studied the impact of
learning a second language on the brain, which Grady said is related to
the need to inhibit one language system when speaking, reading or
thinking in the other. The mental process required to play a musical
instrument may work in the same way as juggling dual languages to
strengthen the connections in your brain over time, she noted.
The bottom line boils down to something simple: "Use it or lose it, or lose it less quickly," Grady said.
the study found an association between musical activity and staying
mentally sharp, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
Visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine for more on cognitive impairment.