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Giving Your Brain A Full-Body Workout Through Music


Playing music produces a whirlwind of activity in the brain that is unmatched by any other activity including playing sports and painting. It is the only activity that researchers can compare to a full-body workout.

A recent Ted-Ed video has some fun with this topic, exploring the issue through animation that’s under the direction of educator Anita Collins. Researchers have been studying this topic for more than two decades and there is still more work to be done but what is clear is that there is a difference between listening to music and playing music. The act of playing music sparks activity — or what the video narrator likes to call “fireworks” — that lights up both sides of the brain.

“Playing a musical instrument engages practically every area of the brain at once,” the video’s narrator says. “And as with any other workout, disciplines, structured practice in playing music strengthen those brain functions allowing us to apply that strength to other activities.”

We’ve already read research on how music lessons enhance communication skills. This video explores the brain’s executive function, the ability to connect past experiences with the present. Essentially it is a set of skills people would love to have on their resume; an ability to organize and plan as well as pay attention to details and manage time effectively. Neuroscientists also noted that playing music increased the activity in the part of the brain that serves as a bridge to both hemispheres of the brain allowing messages to travel across the brain faster.

To see more info on Collins’ exploration of music and the brain, watch this video.

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