If you love music, this is your lucky day.
Those tunes you enjoy listening to so much are actually affecting your brain in pretty significant, positive ways. So do your cranium a favour by cranking your best playlist, and reading the incredible facts below.
1. Children who play instruments have better developed brains
We know you hate listening to them practice, but kids really benefit from learning to play an instrument. That’s because as people mature, the outer layer of their brain (called the cortex) becomes thicker. And a study published in the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry last year found that children who play music regularly saw “more rapid cortical thickness maturation” in the areas of the brain associated with motor planning and coordination, visuospatial ability, as well as emotion and impulse regulation. Not bad for a drum set, eh?
2. Musicians can hear things no one else can
If you haven’t already decided to take up playing an instrument, another study out of Northwestern University also found that people who learn to play at a young age will have an enhanced ability to hear and process sounds they wouldn’t otherwise be able to. It’s almost like having a sixth sense!
3. Music actually makes you happier
Have you ever gotten a chill while listening to one of your favourite songs? That’s just music messing with your brain chemistry. According to a study published in the journal Nature, that feeling is actually the result of your brain releasing a large amount of dopamine (which is associated with pleasure) in anticipation of the peak moment of the song. That means if you’ve ever heard someone describe music as a drug, they aren’t actually far off from the truth.
4. Songs can help you recall long-lost memories
In a study published in the journal Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, researchers found that music can help patients even with severe brain injuries recall personal memories. But there’s more good news: the memories the patients recalled usually involved a person, people or a life period, but they were almost always positive.
5. You’ll be able to drown out background noises better than others
Even if you only played an instrument for a couple of years in school, the effects left on your brain will stick around for decades. One of them is the ability to drown out background noise. Typically as people age, this becomes harder and harder to do. But a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that those who played instruments at some point were not only better at blocking out unnecessary sounds, they were also better at honing in on the ones they actually wanted to hear.
6. It can make you smarter
A study published in 2007 found that children who attended schools with superior music education programs scored around 22 per cent higher in English and 20 per cent higher in math scores on standardized tests. The researchers added that even when children attended lower-quality music programs, they still performed better than kids who never attended at all.
7. Music can help you learn other languages
In two different Stanford University studies, researchers found that the musically-inclined found it easier than others to detect small differences in word syllables. Additionally, those with a background in music are also able to work more efficiently at distinguishing tiny differences between rapidly changing sounds, which is essential to processing language.