Music and the Brain

What do we know about Music and the Brain? How does the brain show the effects of musical intervention? Can the frequencies and emotions produced by music create new synapses?

If you want to dig a little bit, here is a crazy example of what our brains do when we hear music.

Frankly, we use very little of our brain, as big as it is. There are animals much smaller than us that use a greater proportion of our brain than we do. Why? Are homo-sapiens lazy? Could the fact we use complicated language, unlike any others in the animal kingdom, mean that we give up on other areas of brain development? Is it akin to giving up a sensory mechanism, in that, if one is missing, others take over?

It is a well-known fact that playing, listening or simply enjoying music can expand our brain usage.  We know that blind people often have better hearing. If we exercise our brain by listening to music, maybe over time, humans will use more of their brain. Neuroscience today talks frequently about neuro-plasticity, the ability for the human brain to change, to continue to learn as we age.

Why is music an inherent human element? Archeological digs have unearthed skulls that indicate early man used music to communicate, long before writing and language. No wonder music goes to the heart of all matters, speaking a universal truth, tapping into untouched cranial areas, causing cascading of behavioral patterns and capturing an emotional moment that can trigger new understandings.

Research shows that music helps language development. And with a scanning mechanism called functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), we now understand that the whole brain is a music center. Neuroscientist Robert Zatorre states that “there isn’t a cognitive function that doesn’t somehow pertain to music. People have realized that music really does serve as a gateway into understanding human cognition.” (The Power of Music, Elena Mannes, 2011).

For people with disabilities and/or those needing cognitive support, infusing music into the activities of young to old can make an enormous difference to development, enjoyment and quality of life. All three Violin for Wellness™ programs bring this music into settings that are very receptive to the addition of music in the daily environment.