Did you know ? Music not only softens morale, it is also a powerful ally for our health. Listening and practicing the fourth art not only improves our mental well-being, but also our cerebral plasticity and our cognitive abilities. decryption.
No one (or almost) is insensitive to the power of music. When preferences vary, the fourth art touches us deep in our hearts…and our brains. This is why listening to and practicing music is increasingly advocated by the medical community. And this from an early age. Studies have shown that music acts as a neurostimulant in babies, and especially in premature babies.
Swiss researchers at the University Hospital of Geneva have found that music promotes the development of sensory and cognitive functions in these newborns. To arrive at this conclusion, the scientists commissioned composer Andreas Vollenweider to create three melodies to accompany babies waking up, waking up, and falling asleep. They found that the neural networks of babies exposed to these songs developed more efficiently than those of other preemies.
The impact of music on the cognitive and executive functions of our brains no longer needs to be proven, especially in children. Recent discoveries show that the fourth art modifies the brain’s biochemical processes by improving brain plasticity. This would explain why it has beneficial effects on the intellectual development of toddlers.
The work of Christina Zhao and Patricia Kuhl, two researchers from the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington, confirmed this as early as 2016. They found, with medical neuroimaging to back it up, that listening to music influences the development of speech learning. . skills in babies.
“We know that babies learn quickly from a wide variety of experiences and we believe that music can be an important experience that can influence their brain development.”
Christina Zhao on CBS News
Playing Music, “A Complete Calling of the Brain”
This beneficial effect on brain plasticity extends over childhood and adult life. The practice of an instrument would thus make it possible to develop its intelligence quotient (IQ) more quickly. A team of researchers, led by experts from Stanford University School of Medicine, studied the cognitive functions of 153 musicians and non-musicians. She found a significant difference in the brain structure of musicians who started playing an instrument at a young age, be it piano, clarinet, trumpet or violin. The latter have stronger brain connections than those who started musical training late.
For Anita Collins, a researcher specializing in brain development and musical learning, playing an instrument is the equivalent of:“a complete workout for the brain”. “Listening to music engages the brain in all sorts of interesting activities, but playing music makes the brain fully engaged”she explained in a Ted Talk conference in 2014.
“When playing an instrument, almost all areas of the brain are involved simultaneously, especially the visual cortex, the auditory cortex and the motor cortex. And as with all training, methodical and structured exercises strengthen these brain functions, allowing us to apply this power to other activities.”
One thing is certain, the more you practice an instrument, the more you benefit from these effects. But listening to music can also bring many benefits. First about mood regulation. Cognitive neuroscience claims that music provides a sense of pleasure by activating our reward circuitry. This system, set up by natural selection to regulate our desires and emotions, increases the release of dopamine, the famous “happiness hormone”† So much so that music is now used as a therapeutic tool in healthcare facilities.
The persistence of musical memory
Music therapy has also proven itself in treating stress and managing pain. There are more and more music workshops to help people with Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and even migraines. A team of French, German and American researchers conducted the experiment with about twenty migraine patients. They offered them to listen to 20 minutes of music twice a day for three months. Result: Their migraine attacks are drastically spread out. In fact, half of the study participants said they had been cut in half.
The therapeutic virtues of music don’t stop there. Many works indicate that the fourth art stimulates almost all forms of memory, including in the elderly. Hervé Platel, professor of neuropsychology at the University of Caen, is one of the first researchers to observe the persistence of musical memory in the 1990s. He found that Alzheimer’s patients manage to learn new songs in a matter of weeks, while we thought their memory had been lost. And this, even at an advanced stage of the disease.
But despite all that, can we say that music perpetuates brain aging? Researchers remain cautious on the matter. However, they all agree on one point: listening to music, singing or playing an instrument has multiple benefits for overall cognitive functioning of the brain, at all ages. All the more reason to take advantage of the Fête de la Musique on June 21.
(ETX Daily Up)