Music can make us feel good, but did you know it can also promote healthy aging and protect against cognitive decline in older adults?
No matter whether lullabies or anthems lull you to sleep or make you stand up and dance, the emotions and memories associated with songs stick around for decades, allowing us to recall their melody even now. Researchers have even demonstrated that music induces different responses in the brain than other types of stimulation and has an effect on memory formation.
Studies suggest that middle-aged and older adults who have practiced music throughout their lives exhibit greater cognitive benefits in areas such as working memory, immediate verbal recall and recognition. These benefits appear stronger among those who began practicing earlier in life than improvements seen through other types of cognitive training programs.
Brain changes resulting from early musical experiences may also have long-term ramifications, even among individuals who no longer play instruments regularly. One study demonstrated how early experience with learning an instrument altered the auditory cortex to process sound faster – providing people who had experienced early musical experience an advantage as adults.
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