Does Music Make You Smarter?

As smartphones and their accompanying app ecosystems burst onto the scene over the past decade, a notable subset of apps began to appear which purported to improve neurological and cognitive functioning. However, it seems the best method for boosting the brain has been around for quite a bit longer…

Take It All In

The brain training industry is a relatively new phenomenon, largely enabled by modern smartphone technology, but research doesn’t necessarily support some of the claims made by app creators. The notion that playing brain training games can reduce age-related cognitive decline has little empirical evidence to back it up, and in fact Lumosity were fined $2m for misleading customers in this area.

However, one activity that does create demonstrable changes in the brain is music performance (and even listening to music). Scans of brains of musicians versus non-musicians reveal significant differences; for example, the corpus callosum, which provides connections between the left and right hemispheres, is larger in musicians.

Take My Word For It

Other longitudinal studies following groups of subjects over time also show that young children who do 14 months of music training exhibit structural and functional brain changes. Music training seems to afford not only improved musical ability, but according to another study, also improves verbal performance, and the benefits are greater the younger the training begins.

Music is extensively (and effectively) used as therapy for victims of stroke or degenerative disease, as it seems to reach people in ways that other mechanisms cannot – as well as stimulating brain growth and development, it also has great repair and rehabilitation power.

So the bottom line is that while some apps may provide certain benefits, one of the most powerful activities for brain development is music, and the earlier you begin, the better…


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