¿ How does music impact your brain

Studies continue to demonstrate that music is extremely beneficial for the brain, especially playing an instrument.

Music Therapy is one of the oldest treatment methods in the world to treat diseases holistically, and the benefits are backed by science. 

Most recently, it has been shown that both listening and playing music are extremely effective in preventing dementia.

When music enters the scene, the mood often changes stress, pain, and anxiety become less and less important. 

The three key ingredients to this cure are rhythm, melody, and harmony. 

1. It makes you smarter

boy playing piano

Studies show that playing an instrument has a positive impact on inhibition, planning, and verbal intelligence. Furthermore, children who undergo musical training have better verbal memory, second language pronunciation accuracy, reading ability, and executive functions. 

2. It upgrades the brain

bear playing clarinet

Brain studies show that musicians' motor and multi-sensory networks are often better trained to work together. 

The process of actually playing involves:

  1. Reading a complex symbolic system and translating it into sequential, bimanual motor activity dependent on multi-sensory feedback.
  2. Developing fine motor skills coupled with metric precision
  3. Memorizing long musical passages
  4. Improvising within given musical parameters. 

3. It's a full sensory workout

man playing piano in field

Listening to music requires certain perceptual abilities, including pitch discrimination, auditory memory, and selective attention in order to perceive the temporal and harmonic structure of the music as well as its affective components. 

When listening, a network of brain structures becomes engaged. 

Essentially, the auditory cognitive system is fully engaged and dependent on working memory mechanisms in order to relate one element in a sequence to another that occurs later. 

4. It reduces the impact of cognitive problems

man playing accordion with woman

Music is harmony, and there is a high level of evidence that music is extremely impactful for Alzheimer's patients. 

It protects cognitive domains that usually decline with aging and boosts other domains that do not decline with aging. 

It reduces the impact of cognitive problems associated with aging because it challenges and stimulates the brain to work together in coherence.


Jaschke, A. C., Honing, H., & Scherder, E. . (2018). Longitudinal Analysis of Music Education on Executive Functions in Primary School Children . Frontiers in Neuroscience, 2018; 12. 103..
Kayaaslan, B. & Lok, N.. (2019). The Effect of Music Therapy on Cognitive Functions and Adaptation in Alzheimer's Patients. International Journal of Depression and Anxiety.
Miendlarzewska, E. A., & Trost, W. J. . (2014). How musical training affects cognitive development: rhythm, reward and other modulating variables. . Frontiers in neuroscience, 7, 279..
Román-Caballero, R., Arnedo, M., Triviño, M., & Lupiáñez, J. . (2018). Musical practice as an enhancer of cognitive function in healthy aging - A systematic review and meta-analysis.. PloS one, 13(11), e0207957. .
Moreno-Morales, C., Calero, R., Moreno-Morales, P., & Pintado, C. . (2020). Music Therapy in the Treatment of Dementia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. . Frontiers in medicine, 7, 160. .
Peretz, I., & Zatorre, R. J. . (2005). Brain organization for music processing. Annual review of psychology, 56, 89–114..
Zatorre, R. J., Chen, J. L., & Penhune, V. B. . (2007). When the brain plays music: auditory-motor interactions in music perception and production. . Nature reviews. Neuroscience, 8(7), 547–558.

Fascinating article! Thanks for sharing. I am an avid music listener that listens to music probably several hours a day. I'm glad to know it might make me smarter through a full sensory workout. It really helps me clear my head and get into the mood for certain events or activities. 

I know music always helps me concentrate and changes my mood when I need to get motivated!

This is a good article, and the results of such studies are not surprising. When I'm working on something creative (writing, making presentations, etc.), I literally have to have music playing or else I can't concentrate on what I'm doing. My mind wanders and I have no focus. Music gets the creative juices flowing and the mind starts clicking. It's amazing how that works.

I do believe music helps young children develop and become smarter.  The younger you can start a child on a musical instrument, the better. Play music in the womb, and start them in a class at 2 or 3 years old. Kids brains are like sponges when they are young, so they can absorb naturally and pick up learning in a fun atmosphere.  That’s why Baby Einstein/Baby Mozart are so popular with parents.  Children are learning basic counting with rhythm, and clapping/and moving to the beat. 

Music can really change my whole mood, bring up a memory, push me through a workout or make a girls night the most fun ever. I'd even listen to it while I'm working or in the shower. I don't do silence very well. I did play instruments when was younger but listening to all different kinds of music really is therapy for me. Great article.

@goingsteady23, I started learning how to play music at 33, and never looked back. I picked a Ukulele, because it was the easiest instrument to start playing.

I'm learning piano now (pads actually). It's definitely challenging, and very rewarding at the same time. Best of luck on your musical journey.

Music for me has always been something I use to clear my head, music makes everything better. When I'm doing something I don't like, like cleaning or paperwork, music helps me get it done faster and makes it more fun.

I'm currently 30 years old and attempting (emphasis on attempting) to learn the piano myself. This was before I learned about all of the benefits of doing so, which include, making me smarter, improving multisensory feedback, sensory workout, and delay aging or Alzheimers. I haven't personally seen these improvements thus far, but I don't doubt them. I think once I get into the habit of playing for a few months, I'll have to reevaluate at that point.