How playing an instrument benefits your brain – Anita Collins

How playing an instrument benefits your brain – Anita Collins


Did you know that every time
musicians pick up their instruments, there are fireworks going off
all over their brain? On the outside,
they may look calm and focused, reading the music and making the precise
and practiced movements required. But inside their brains,
there’s a party going on. How do we know this? Well, in the last few decades, neuroscientists have made
enormous breakthroughs in understanding how our brains work
by monitoring them in real time with instruments like
fMRI and PET scanners. When people are hooked up
to these machines, tasks, such as reading
or doing math problems, each have corresponding areas of the brain
where activity can be observed. But when researchers got
the participants to listen to music, they saw fireworks. Multiple areas of their brains
were lighting up at once, as they processed the sound, took it apart to understand elements
like melody and rhythm, and then put it all back together
into unified musical experience. And our brains do all this work
in the split second between when we first hear the music
and when our foot starts to tap along. But when scientists turned
from observing the brains of music listeners to those of musicians, the little backyard fireworks
became a jubilee. It turns out that while listening
to music engages the brain in some pretty interesting activities, playing music is the brain’s equivalent
of a full-body workout. The neuroscientists saw
multiple areas of the brain light up, simultaneously processing
different information in intricate, interrelated,
and astonishingly fast sequences. But what is it about making music
that sets the brain alight? The research is still fairly new, but neuroscientists
have a pretty good idea. Playing a musical instrument engages practically every area
of the brain at once, especially the visual,
auditory, and motor cortices. As with any other workout, disciplined,
structured practice in playing music strengthens those brain functions,
allowing us to apply that strength to other activities. The most obvious difference between
listening to music and playing it is that the latter requires
fine motor skills, which are controlled
in both hemispheres of the brain. It also combines the linguistic
and mathematical precision, in which the left hemisphere
is more involved, with the novel and creative
content that the right excels in. For these reasons,
playing music has been found to increase the volume and activity
in the brain’s corpus callosum, the bridge between the two hemispheres, allowing messages to get across the brain
faster and through more diverse routes. This may allow musicians to solve problems more effectively and creatively,
in both academic and social settings. Because making music also involves
crafting and understanding its emotional content and message, musicians often have higher levels
of executive function, a category of interlinked tasks that includes planning, strategizing,
and attention to detail and requires simultaneous analysis
of both cognitive and emotional aspects. This ability also has an impact
on how our memory systems work. And, indeed, musicians exhibit
enhanced memory functions, creating, storing, and retrieving memories
more quickly and efficiently. Studies have found that musicians appear
to use their highly connected brains to give each memory multiple tags, such as a conceptual tag,
an emotional tag, an audio tag, and a contextual tag, like a good Internet search engine. How do we know that all these benefits
are unique to music, as opposed to, say, sports or painting? Or could it be
that people who go into music were already smarter to begin with? Neuroscientists have explored
these issues, but so far, they have found that the artistic
and aesthetic aspects of learning to play a musical instrument are different from any other activity
studied, including other arts. And several randomized studies
of participants, who showed the same levels of cognitive function
and neural processing at the start, found that those who were exposed
to a period of music learning showed enhancement in multiple
brain areas, compared to the others. This recent research about
the mental benefits of playing music has advanced our understanding
of mental function, revealing the inner rhythms
and complex interplay that make up the amazing
orchestra of our brain.

100 Comments

  • Bethlehem Eisenhour

    August 23, 2019

    I play Bass. Every instrument is cool.

    Reply
  • L.O.Λ.E You

    August 23, 2019

    Isn't he playing on the wrong place on the double bass? He should playing pizzicato on the fingerboard… 😀

    Reply
  • RaptorTV

    August 23, 2019

    Прочитал бесполезна для мозга

    Reply
  • Ömer Arin

    August 23, 2019

    demonstration of signals of two hemispheres look like paris subway map;))

    Reply
  • SpaceBeam

    August 23, 2019

    Any harmonica players here?

    Reply
  • Vicarious Gamer

    August 23, 2019

    I've been playing guitar for oh, about 40 years. 4 albums under my belt. Not anything critically acclaimed, but I did make a small name for myself, And absolutely… When I get into composing mode my mind is everywhere at once. So many notes, chords, arpeggios flood my mind and it's difficult to settle upon what I call "pieces" of music that I might include into the song. I can imagine how many lights are switched on while indulging in the composition process. It's really a wonderful feeling. Interestingly calming stressors.

    Reply
  • 김나영

    August 24, 2019

    So if i want a better SAT score, i should start playing the piano…

    Reply
  • Paz riveros

    August 24, 2019

    Did this study include singing?

    Reply
  • David Ziranu

    August 24, 2019

    Io suono il pianoforte 👍

    Reply
  • Mayte Piñeiro

    August 24, 2019

    Eso es así con cualquier instrumento? Y con cualquier tipo de música? Porque con la batería, por ejemplo, no se trabaja la motricidad fina…y la música roquera, es más bien ruido que música

    Reply
  • Mayte Piñeiro

    August 24, 2019

    Eso es así con cualquier instrumento? Y con cualquier tipo de música? Porque con la batería, por ejemplo, no se trabaja la motricidad fina…y la música roquera, es más bien ruido que música

    Reply
  • Poppy Jenner

    August 24, 2019

    So cute

    Reply
  • Rasesh Gandhi

    August 24, 2019

    Thank you so much

    Reply
  • Kaltra Cobaj

    August 24, 2019

    Im glad i've started playin ukelelee 😋. Where are my uke players😁?

    Reply
  • Snow Crest

    August 24, 2019

    We need a study of how flying a jet/being a pilot affects the brain. This is very similar to playing music in a group, as you need fine motor movements, you need to have very good spatial orientation, moments of intense concentration followed by a more relaxed situation, smooth finesse on the controls much like playing an instrument, and interaction with the pilot next to you, plus air traffic control, plus weather. No doubt it takes both sides of your brain.

    As a side note: I just saw the Rolling Stones in concert and Mick Jagger is a roll model for the rest of us as a 76 year old rock star. I would guess he will be doing this into his 80s with the singing, dancing, and playing an instrument. He had a 2+ hour workout on stage.

    Reply
  • Tim R.

    August 24, 2019

    I am a drummer. Now i feel great.

    Reply
  • Guitalele Specialist

    August 25, 2019

    So proud i'm a guitarist😀

    Reply
  • SouthernIowaLady

    August 25, 2019

    My brain feels incomplete when I don't have / take time to practice. The day isn't good without performance time.

    Reply
  • మాధురి ఎన్

    August 25, 2019

    Summary: just learn to play an instrument its good for ur brain

    Reply
  • Circumflêx ÂÂÂ

    August 25, 2019

    I hope learning languages and articulating words will do the same cuz I really have no talent in composing music whatsoever

    Reply
  • F i o n a

    August 25, 2019

    I thought I was good at maths bc I was Asian
    Oh wait…

    Reply
  • RanBelGaming

    August 25, 2019

    Flute gang STAND UP

    Reply
  • Space Explorer

    August 25, 2019

    I m a beatboxer means I m a noise maker haha

    Reply
  • Anbu Thomas

    August 25, 2019

    I was weak 😔 in my studies slow learner but in guitar i compled my 8th grade

    Reply
  • SagacityCity

    August 26, 2019

    any pianists here? 🙂

    Reply
  • Jorge Martín

    August 26, 2019

    What will happen to my brain if i only play John Cage's 4'33" for all my life….???? https://youtu.be/JTEFKFiXSx4

    Reply
  • violinning human

    August 26, 2019

    Time for some ego stroking

    Reply
  • violinning human

    August 26, 2019

    If musician brains are alot of fireworks, lingling's is a nuclear explosion

    Reply
  • Rachel Malonish

    August 26, 2019

    Omigosh U guys have to go watch Yesong Sophie Lee playing violin she’s so freaking good I saw her on YouTube ahhhh I wanna meet her so baddd
    https://youtu.be/2oSLwlxV-fQ

    Reply
  • me.mowgli

    August 26, 2019

    0:56 the SMILE

    Reply
  • Kenshin Vang

    August 26, 2019

    Clarinets?!
    Violins?!

    Reply
  • Vanessa Cortes

    August 26, 2019

    I Play The Violin 🎻🎶🎶
    I Love Playing This Beautiful Instrument

    Reply
  • the 7th letter

    August 27, 2019

    The music never stops

    Reply
  • S A Y O - N A R A

    August 27, 2019

    Violinist?

    Reply
  • DarkSlidGamer

    August 27, 2019

    Does PC, Mobile, and Xbox count as Instruments?

    Reply
  • Shanaenae

    August 27, 2019

    All i can say is, the amination is such a cutie 😍

    Reply
  • Camila Rossini

    August 27, 2019

    Imagine if you played for 40 hours a day…

    Reply
  • Theo Suharto

    August 28, 2019

    *insert sad EDM noises*

    Reply
  • Philip Huang

    August 28, 2019

    So guitar hero makes me smart

    Reply
  • Sungle Live

    August 28, 2019

    it is useful primarily for the soul, and the brain is just an organ

    Reply
  • Dragon

    August 28, 2019

    Have you ever seen a programmers brain during competitive programming

    Reply
  • Dmytro Doubinsky

    August 28, 2019

    *watching this for self-esteem boost*😂

    Reply
  • Iresh Fernando

    August 28, 2019

    I’m a professional pianist 🎹 and i’ve been doing music for 13 years now

    Reply
  • Dr Thot Swatter

    August 28, 2019

    Basically this video is sayin musicians are big brain moment

    Reply
  • Hakan Çilenk

    August 28, 2019

    Scientists should have studied on Allan Holdsworth's brain.

    Reply
  • Josh Edenfield

    August 28, 2019

    Been playing guitar 15 years now :p

    Reply
  • Kazuto Kirigaya

    August 28, 2019

    Karının amını fayda sağlar

    Reply
  • Amethyst DaWolf

    August 28, 2019

    I'm hoping drawing does the same thing

    Reply
  • High priest of the church of tea

    August 28, 2019

    1:45 alright mate but that’s just the tube map

    Reply
  • Defi Munawaroh

    August 28, 2019

    Its not all true but some are.

    Reply
  • Heberth Sarmiento

    August 29, 2019

    Seria bueno que lo pasen en español. yo toco tres instrumentos y siempre considero que me falta mucho por aprender el cielo es el limite.

    Reply
  • Peter

    August 29, 2019

    1:45 train in Tokyo

    Reply
  • brownpunk

    August 29, 2019

    So how about skin flute..i have been playing this since i was 13..i am a maestro..

    Reply
  • Faith G

    August 29, 2019

    My music director played this video during a band concert once!

    Reply
  • Serdar Ataş

    August 29, 2019

    KOLAYSA SEN ÇAL ORDUSPOR ÇOCUUUU

    Reply
  • John Is some random dude

    August 29, 2019

    Viola gang
    Viola gang
    Viola gang
    Viola gang
    Viola gang
    Viola gang
    Viola gang

    Reply
  • Diamonds are the best

    August 29, 2019

    Who watching this after they quit an instrument

    Reply
  • Kay

    August 30, 2019

    Yeahhh!🎸

    Reply
  • Android Man

    August 30, 2019

    I see here 1K Illiterates so far. 😛 😜 😝😛 😜 😝

    Reply
  • sabin97

    August 30, 2019

    1k people dont play any instruments….and are salty about it….

    Reply
  • Chilldown Music

    August 30, 2019

    Is mayonnaise an instrument?

    Reply
  • Bryant Anniban

    August 30, 2019

    Like, I want to be a musician right now!

    Reply
  • Yusuf Özhan

    August 30, 2019

    vay arkadas be müthiş türkçe alt yazı ekleyen arkadaşlara teşekkür ederim

    Reply
  • Danilo Estudo

    August 31, 2019

    Wow

    Reply
  • Sambhavi Gupta

    August 31, 2019

    I play guitar, piano and flute😁

    Reply
  • The School of Rhythm - Let's Drum London!

    August 31, 2019

    I am a professional musicians so I like to hear this.
    However I am very cautious of so called 'authorities' and 'according to research, scientists found that….'
    I was rather shocked about the comments regarding the so called the 'enhanced memory functions of musicians. Especially when it is said that we are 'creating, storing and retrieving memories more efficiently'. How were scientists able to estimate this 'increased efficiency'…? After half a century performing worldwide, I have observed that a lot of musicians are completely messed up mentally, have social relationships problems and many can't remember their name until the 4th coffee after breakfast at 11 am. I am not speaking of guys on drugs.
    It is not known by science today where memory is stored. It is one of the big enigma of the brain to the extent that some scientists question whether the brain has anything to do with it.
    It also says that 'musicians give their memories multiple tags such as' (then 4 tags follow). This I am sorry is ridiculous. 32 perceptions have been isolated in any human being and it was observed that each memory contains most if not all of these perceptions. We are talking 32 tags. Everyone is recording this. Each mental image picture contains those tags. Without them memories are lost for ever and one couldn't remember. So it is a very nice video which makes us feel like we are very special beings compared to the rest. But it contains loads of bollocks and I would take it with a pinch of salt.
    This said, what for me is true in this video, is that learning and playing an instrument is a challenging, enjoyable and uplifting activity which puts one above the rest in terms of happiness and that it does develops abilities unknown to Joe Blog. Musicians – artists – also possess this exceptional characteristic: our ultimate product is happy people. We are spreading happiness and that's what we do.
    I just won't bring in the scientific world into the picture. Science being so removed from Art, is unable to judge or understand it. It is trying too hard.

    Reply
  • raphul

    September 1, 2019

    einstein used to play violin

    Reply
  • Chase Ramos

    September 2, 2019

    does this include music producers too minus motor skills?

    Reply
  • pqikwe

    September 2, 2019

    Jesus loves u

    Reply
  • Tracy Du

    September 2, 2019

    I play the violin

    Reply
  • time traveler

    September 2, 2019

    Oh my gosh i plan on doing so much things in my life

    Reply
  • Pilar Faúndez

    September 3, 2019

    Llevo años y nada :v

    Reply
  • Elizabeth Glasby

    September 4, 2019

    im level 10 at piano and have dyslexia and horrible at solving problems?? lots of this not true

    Reply
  • Lily Cai

    September 4, 2019

    看完发现原来自己这么厉害

    Reply
  • JaeBum Lim

    September 5, 2019

    lingling can play all instruments at once with her/his feet

    Reply
  • Mony. v

    September 5, 2019

    I just need another excuse to say im smart just because i play a stick with holes and buttons

    Reply
  • K. M.

    September 7, 2019

    As a pianist, I feel special <3

    Reply
  • Harrison Hazza

    September 7, 2019

    This just made me play my old keyboard.

    Reply
  • Memiliano

    September 7, 2019

    *Off-key Kazoo *

    Reply
  • 令翹

    September 8, 2019

    That's why Ling Ling can be a doctor

    Reply
  • Resting Stitch Face

    September 9, 2019

    WHERE ARE MY BASSISTS AT??

    Reply
  • Barış Büyükkılıç

    September 9, 2019

    Who does djent on guitar?

    Reply
  • Heavy Infantry

    September 9, 2019

    God why is he plucking between the bridge and fingerboard

    Reply
  • klukva36

    September 10, 2019

    Ложь, пиздешь и провокация. Говорб как музыкант.

    Reply
  • Jasmine Villarba

    September 10, 2019

    Now I know how to save money on new year…

    Reply
  • хлеб

    September 10, 2019

    BIG BRAAIIINN

    Reply
  • Baran Lestrange

    September 14, 2019

    I'm just watching this to reassure myself that playing my clarinet for hours is productive and I'm not playing it because I have no friends.

    Reply
  • aminoacidcereal

    September 14, 2019

    God I'm so glad I didn't give up on piano all these years

    Reply
  • I Eat Plastic

    September 15, 2019

    I play the cello. Any others?

    Reply
  • Siobhra DeWar

    September 16, 2019

    How soon after starting an instrument should I expect to see myself get smart?

    Reply
  • Dunsparcepoop Ok.

    September 17, 2019

    BIG BRAIN

    Reply
  • Moonlight_Playz200 Woo!

    September 19, 2019

    I was watching this while putting together my clarinet 🙂

    Reply
  • Natasja

    September 24, 2019

    How come some people with Alzheimer's or dementia sometimes still remember how to play music, while they have forgotten everything else? Could somebody help me by explaining this?

    Reply
  • Tico

    September 30, 2019

    drums count right? haha right? right?

    Reply
  • Jerome Pullian

    October 1, 2019

    Hello pianists/keyboardists! 🖐

    Reply
  • Alana Sikora

    October 1, 2019

    Ling Ling's brain must have a 1383838838383999388326696969696 pack

    Reply
  • Hue Hue

    October 4, 2019

    "I play 3 chords in a guitar so I'm a 200iq musician"

    Reply
  • shiba is me

    October 6, 2019

    Is meat considered as an instrument?

    Reply
  • Ayelet Maravilla

    October 6, 2019

    I feel so good about myself right now.

    Reply
  • lil ava

    October 7, 2019

    This is such an useful video. This helped me really much on playing the guitar. I have difficulties playing guitar and I about to give up on it when I got motivated and started playing guitar again after watching this. Thank you and wish you guys have a good day:)

    Reply

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