How does music benefit the brain?

March 26, 2018 - 513 views

Sometimes, watching a musician perform live can make us mere listeners feel like they have superpowers. Now, new research suggests brief musical training increases blood flow in the left hemisphere of the brain, but there are other benefits for listeners, too.

Researchers from the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Liverpool in the UK conducted two different studies to investigate how musical training affects the flow of blood to the brain.

They say their findings, which they presented at the British Psychological Society annual conference in Birmingham, UK, suggest the areas in charge of music and language share common pathways in the brain.

In early 2014, Medical News Today reported on a study that revealed brain scans of jazz musiciansshowed similarities between language and music. Researchers from that study said the brain likely uses its syntactic regions to process all communication - whether spoken or through music.

In the first of two studies, student Amy Spray and her mentor, Dr. G. Meyer, looked for brain activity patterns in 14 musicians and nine non-musicians while they engaged in music and word generation assignments.

The team found that brain patterns for the musicians were similar in both tasks, whereas, for the non-musicians, this was not the case.

In the second study, the investigators measured brain activity patterns in a different group of non-musicians who took part in word generation and music perception tasks. After initial measurements were taken, the team then took measurements once the participants had received 30 minutes of musical training.

The musical training, say the researchers, consisted of learning to tap three polyrhythms - two or more rhythms not constructed from the same meter that are played at the same time - with their fingers.

In the measurements taken before the training, the team observed that there were no significant brain activity patterns of correlation. However, after the musical training, they did find "significant similarities."

"It was fascinating to see that the similarities in blood flow signatures could be brought about after just half an hour of simple musical training," says Spray.

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Source: Medical News Today

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