Piano Playing Benefits for Cognitive Function

piano playing benefits, piano, brain studies, cognitive function, musician, reading music, learning music
Piano playing may improve cognitive function in later life.

Picking up an instrument has been shown to not only reduce depression and improve sense of well being, but also prove an excellent supplement for aging brains.

Playing an instrument is a complex process. It requires fine motor skills, dexterity, creativity, emotional attachment, and even mathematical involvement, but it doesn’t stop there, piano playing benefits may go as far as added defenses against memory loss, cognitive decline, and diminished ability to distinguish consonants and spoken words as we age.

In 2013, a team of researchers at the Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer, Barcelona, Spain studied the brains of elderly test subjects before and after months of piano lessons. When compared to another group who’d received training in leisure activities such as sport and painting etc, the piano players showed much more notable improvement on STROOP as well as other neuropsychological tests, suggesting learning to play and read music can be a useful intervention in older adults to promote cognitive reserve.

Playing an instrument causes heightened brain activity across multiple areas, with most occurring in the visual, auditory and motor cortices. Playing also increases volume and signal density in the corpus callosum, the bridge between the two hemispheres in our brains, meaning information is able to pass more easily by using multiple pathways. As well as increased executive functions such as planning and strategising, musicians also exhibit better ability to multitask and showcase more comprehensive memory function. Read more…

With the rise of the internet, it’s become a lot easier for people to access music, which is good news for online businesses, and excellent news for our brains. And there’s evidence to suggest the older generations’ online presence is increasing.

“In the past 5 years we’ve seen significant increases in the 50+ demographic in traffic,” says music transcription company The Notary‘s Scribe in Chief. “It’s fantastic to think that online musical resources such as the one we offer are starting to be utilised by an older audience.”

So, as for your parents forcing you into piano lessons as a child, well, they just might’ve been on to something after all.

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Martine Coates

Marketing Executive at Scarab4
Geologist hailing from the University of Southampton with a specialism in marine volcanic sedimentology and the subaqueous emplacement of subaerial volcanic mass flows. Now working for the LLW Repository Ltd in Cumbria, UK as part of the Environmental Monitoring and Site Characterisation team.

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