A few weeks ago, I shared how much I am enjoying my new Spotify account. Music not only reminds us of positive memories from days gone by; it also provides us with other spiritual, mental and physical benefits.
And if we take it one step further – from listening to music to learning to play a musical instrument (or sing) – this allows us to further improve our quality of life, especially our mental health.
Neuroscientists have found that musicians have more connected brains than non-musicians. After comparing their brains, they found the corpus callosum in musicians’ brains is more active and even measurably larger than in non-musicians’ brains. This part of the brain is a bundle of nerve fibres that acts as a bridge of communication between the right and left hemispheres of the brain. When a musician is making music, there is a symmetrical ‘firing’ or activation within both hemispheres. This means there is considerable left/right brain interaction during the music-making process.
How do we benefit from singing or playing a musical instrument?
We are more mentally alert. Our long-term memory improves, and we can solve problems and make decisions more easily. Click here to watch a great little 5-minute TED-Ed video that describes this in more detail.
Remember though, we still benefit from listening to music even when we aren’t musical. Listening to music we like activates alpha brain wave patterns (9 – 14 Hz), creating within us a relaxed or meditative state that supports healthy parasympathetic nervous system function.
Support your brain health in five ways
There are at least five ways to increase the communication between your brain hemispheres and support your brain health. If you do at least one of these on a regular basis, you will increase the amount of white matter in your corpus callosum, and your entire brain):
- Listen to music you love,
- Play a musical instrument (to improve left/right brain interaction),
- Meditate and engage in sound-based mindfulness practices (such as chanting, humming and toning),
- Regularly do brain gym exercises, and
- Engage in simple childhood activities that teach you to “cross the midline“, such as crawling, popping bubbles with one hand only, and using alternating hands and feet to throw or kick a ball.
Seven Day Challenge!
For the next seven days, I challenge you to do your brain a favour by including at least one of these five activities in your daily routine. And if you would like some support as you do this, book a session with me.