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