Heroes

Here's why musicians have better brains. And it's pretty incredible.

For a while, scientists thought music was good for our brains. This time, they're sure.

Here's why musicians have better brains. And it's pretty incredible.

Newer, bigger, and better machines are finding mind-blowing things going on between our ears.

When there's music.

Here's the deal.

When scientists look at brains using FMRIs and PET scans while subjects are doing normal things, the parts of the noggin associated with those things light up as expected.


But when the subjects are listening to music ... eek! There's a light show going on.

Doctors figure this happens because our brains break down what we're hearing into its different parts, analyze those parts, and then put them back together before it's time for the first foot tap or booty shake.

When someone plays music? Stand back. Fireworks!

Playing an instrument involves doing lots of things at once.

It's like a full-body workout for the brain.

Different areas of the brain get into the act.

What you've got is an experience like nothing else. And it explains "musician face."

When you play music, you use fine motor skills controlled by the creative and analytic hemispheres of your brain. There's language involved, and math, too. Plus, feeling, memory, and a lot of everything else your brain can do.

In fact, playing music strengthens the *corpus callosum*, the link between the two halves. Scientists are seeing all kinds of new connections being made as people play music.

This makes musicians great problem-solvers in school and social situations.

Musicians develop higher executive functions.

Musicians get mad skills at interlinked tasks like planning, strategizing, and paying attention to detail because they benefit from learning to quickly handle both cognitive and emotional elements at the same time.

Musicians' memories are also unique.

When musicians process memories, they tend to use an unusual tagging system that lets them file memories in multiple categories.

There's an obvious conclusion to draw.

Playing music is uniquely great for developing a person's brain, young or old.

Studies show that anyone who takes up an instrument is likely to enhance their brainpower.

Awesome.

Music education in public schools these days is facing cutbacks all over, as discussed in this ThinkProgress article.

Educators need to be reminded that we want this trend reversed. Here's some more great info from the VH1 Save The Music Foundation.

True

$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Last year, we shared the sad impact that plastic pollution has had on some of our planet's most beautiful places. With recycling not turning out to be the savior it was made out to be, solutions to our growing plastic problem can seem distant and complex.

We have seen some glimmers of hope from both human innovation and nature itself, however. In 2016, a bacteria that evolved with the ability to break down plastic was discovered in a Japanese waste site. Two years later, scientists managed to engineer the mutant plastic-eating enzyme they called PETase—named for polyethylene terephthalate, the most common plastic found in bottles and food packaging—in a lab.

Here's an explainer of how those enzymes work:

Ending Plastic Pollution with Designer Bacteria youtu.be

Now researchers have revealed another game-changer in the plastic-eater—a super-enzyme that can break down plastic six times faster than PETase alone.

Keep Reading Show less
True

$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather has become a beloved voice of reason, knowledge, and experience for many Americans on social media the past few years. At 88, Rather has seen more than most of us, and as a journalist, he's had a front row seat as modern history has played out. He combines that lifetime of experience and perspective with an eloquence that hearkens to a time when eloquence mattered, he called us to our common American ideals with his book "What Unites Us," and he comforts many of is with his repeated message to stay "steady" through the turmoil the U.S. has been experiencing.

All of that is to say, when Dan Rather sounds the alarm, you know we've reached a critical historical moment.

Yesterday, President Trump again refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power after the election when directly asked if he would—yet another democratic norm being toppled. Afterward, Rather posted the following words of wisdom—and warning—to his nearly three million Facebook fans:


Keep Reading Show less
via DanielandDavid2 / Instagram

Editor's Note: We used "black" in lowercase for our headline and the body of this story in accordance with emerging guidelines from the Associated Press and other trusted news outlets who are using uppercase "Black" in reference to American descendants of the diaspora of individuals forcibly brought from Africa as slaves. As part of our ongoing efforts to be transparent and communicate choices with our readership, we've included this note for clarity. The original story begins below.

On February 26, 2019, Stacy and Babajide Omirin of Lagos, Nigeria got quite the shock. When Stacy delivered identical twins through C-section one came out black and the other, white.

The parents knew they were having identical twins and expected them to look exactly the same. But one has a white-looking complexion and golden, wavy hair.

"It was a massive surprise," Stacy told The Daily Mail. "Daniel came first, and then the nurse said the second baby has golden hair. I thought how can this be possible. I looked down and saw David, he was completely white."

Keep Reading Show less