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Study: Music isn't just good for the soul; it's good for the brain too

Individuals who played a keyboard or a brass instrument, like the piano or trumpet, showed a significant improvement in working memory.
Study: Music isn't just good for the soul; it's good for the brain too
Posted at 12:34 PM, Jan 29, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-29 14:34:59-05

Playing an instrument or even singing your favorite tune may improve your memory and thinking skills.

According to a group of researchers in the U.K., playing a musical instrument improved working memory and the ability to solve complex tasks in older adults, while singing and overall musical ability were also linked to better memory performance.

“Although more research is needed to investigate this relationship, our findings suggest that promoting the exposure to music during life can increase cognitive reserve and reduce the risk of cognitive impairment in older age,” the study read.

The study, published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, is part of the University of Exeter's larger PROTECT project, and it focuses on ongoing evaluation of cognitive function in adults aged 40 and above.

In this study, over 1,100 participants, aged 40 to 67, included both individuals with a musical background and those without.

Researchers found that individuals who played a keyboard or a brass instrument, like the piano or trumpet, showed a significant improvement in working memory, while those who played woodwind instruments, such as the flute, tended to have better executive function.

Meanwhile, those who sang showed better verbal reasoning, but not memory — but group singing was linked to improvements in verbal memory and fluency.

"There is considerable evidence for the benefit of music group activities for individuals with dementia, and this approach could be extended as part of a healthy aging package for healthy older adults to enable them to proactively reduce their risk and to promote brain health," the study reads. 

SEE MORE: Why music and memories are so intertwined


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