This topic has been debated for decades and there are still no definitive answers. music-brainPsychologists claim that any type of mental stimulation before an IQ test will prompt high scores but that yet to be proven.

Musical aptitude, or the ability to learn music, is something that almost everyone seems to possess but isn’t necessarily equally distributed: think of child prodigies, and the inequity becomes very much apparent.

“Aniruddh Patel, a biologist at San Diego’s Neurosciences Institute, points out that this may be a luck-of-the draw thing. “There’s actually a debate about whether musical aptitude is inborn or whether it’s a product of some early experience,” he says. “But it’s pretty clear that people vary in their aptitude for music.”

People talk about “The Mozart Effect,”or research suggesting that listening to a set of Mozart’s music, leads to improvement of certain mental tasks. The Theory is that music makes you smarter or that listening to music as a child causes higher math scores and better cognitive thinking. Researchers Rauscher and Shaw conducted a study around listening to Mozart, and concluded that three and four-year-olds who were given eight months of private piano lessons scored 34% higher on tests of spatio-temporal reasoning than control groups given computer lessons, singing lessons, and no training. Subsequent studies varied in their results and showed that any cognitive enhancement is small and does not reflect any change in IQ or reasoning ability in general, but instead derives entirely from performance on one specific type of cognitive task and has a simple neuropsychological explanation, called enjoyment arousal. For example, he cites a study that found that “listening either to Mozart or to a passage from a Stephen King story enhanced subjects’ performance in paper folding and cutting (one of the tests frequently employed by Rauscher and Shaw.)

There are also many who claim that listening to music can have significant Health benefits. The finding came from the first-large scale review of 400 research papers in the neurochemistry of music which found that music can improve the function of the body’s immune system and reduce levels of stress.

Listening to music was also shown to be more successful than prescription drugs in decreasing a person’s anxiety before undergoing surgery. Music therapy has long been used a way to curb depression and elevate mood. There is even research been done today suggesting that certain types of music if listened to on headphones during dental procedures can reduce pain and discomfort. For toothaches, heavy metal is said to be the best choice. Something about the tone and harmony choices seem to greatly reduce the pain receptors.

“The effect may simply be due to music distracting your mind—or it could be that it induces muscle relaxation,” says study author Sandra Siedlecki, Ph.D., R.N. “New studies that examine the effect of music on stress hormones such as cortisol may shed more light.”Heavy metal not your thing? Pop will do nicely, thank you very much. Music does heal, that we know.

The New York Times put out of the best articles I’ve read about the link between music and intelligence. It talks about people at the top of their Industries and how music has always been a huge part of their lives.

“Look carefully and you’ll find musicians at the top of almost any industry. Woody Allen performs weekly with a jazz band. The television broadcaster Paula Zahn (cello) and the NBC chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd (French horn) attended college on music scholarships; NBC’s Andrea Mitchell trained to become a professional violinist. Both Microsoft’s Mr. Allen and the venture capitalist Roger McNamee have rock bands. Larry Page, a co-founder of Google, played saxophone in high school. Steven Spielberg is a clarinetist and son of a pianist. The former World Bank president James D. Wolfensohn has played cello at Carnegie Hall.

“It’s not a coincidence,” says Mr. Greenspan, who gave up jazz clarinet but still dabbles at the baby grand in his living room. “I can tell you as a statistician, the probability that is mere chance is extremely small.” The cautious former Fed chief adds, “That’s all that you can judge about the facts. The crucial question is: why does that connection exist?”

Paul Allen offers an answer. He says music “reinforces your confidence in the ability to create.” Mr. Allen began playing the violin at age 7 and switched to the guitar as a teenager. Even in the early days of Microsoft, he would pick up his guitar at the end of marathon days of programming. The music was the emotional analog to his day job, with each channeling a different type of creative impulse. In both, he says, “something is pushing you to look beyond what currently exists and express yourself in a new way.

Of course some practicing musicians have long felt that they’re a breed apart — different from “normal” people in some fundamental way. And now there’s proof: scientists have observed that musicians’ brains tend to be a little different in certain, specific ways.

“If you look at the overall brain structure of highly musically trained people,” says Patel, “you’ll see differences in the amount of gray matter in regions that have to do with music processing, like auditory processing or, for instrumentalists, hand-motor control.”

Zattore agrees. “It’s very clear from a number of experiments that if you do musical training, you find changes in brain structures attributable to that training. There are experiments that show that changes are greater if you begin musical training by about the age of seven. They’re still there if you begin later, but smaller in magnitude.”

Vanderbilt University psychologists have found that professionally trained musicians more effectively use a creative technique called divergent thinking, and also use both the left and the right sides of their frontal cortex more heavily than the average person.Read more at: http://phys.org/news142185056.html#jCp

Vanderbilt University psychologists have found that professionally trained musicians more effectively use a creative technique called divergent thinking and also use both the left and right sides of their frontal cortex more heavily than the average person.

The research by Crystal Gibson, Bradley Folley and Sohee Park is currently in press at the journal Brain and Cognition.

“We were interested in how individuals who are naturally creative look at problems that are best solved by thinking ‘out of the box’,” Folley said. “We studied musicians because creative thinking is part of their daily experience, and we found that there were qualitative differences in the types of answers they gave to problems and in their associated brain activity.”

So what is/was your grade point average and have you noticed that being a musician has helped you to process information differently than your non musician peers?Do you see a connection between writing music and math skills?Are you one of the rare few who use both the right and left side of your brain?

The research by Crystal Gibson, Bradley Folley and Sohee Park is currently in press at the journal Brain and Cognition.

“We were interested in how individuals who are naturally creative look at problems that are best solved by thinking ‘out of the box’,” Folley said. “We studied musicians because creative thinking is part of their daily experience, and we found that there were qualitative differences in the types of answers they gave to problems and in their associated brain activity.”

Read more at: http://phys.org/news142185056.html#jCp

 

Vanderbilt University psychologists have found that professionally trained musicians more effectively use a creative technique called divergent thinking, and also use both the left and the right sides of their frontal cortex more heavily than the average person.Read more at: http://phys.org/news142185056.html#jCp

7 Responses to Musicians are smarter

  1. Nikki G says:

    I definitely agree with this. It helps kids to focus and pay attention more. That is why I decided to put my 7-year old in piano lessons. I have a client that swears by this theory. He is super smart and can play anything he puts his mind to it. However, when it comes to simple things like organization, emails, and well basic stuff like time management, he’s at a loss! lol Also, at my studio, Gremlen Recording Studios, I always tell my engineer that he is so smart that he can create a single beat into a masterpiece but cant change a light bulb 🙂 It kinda blows my mind.

    • Ghezzi says:

      Ha! Yes, it does seem to translate to specific skill sets. The ability to focus more is what I see the most with kids. That and the high aptitude for math. Definitely a connection.

  2. Philip Scales says:

    What a brilliantly conceived/researched/executed article! Something I ran across which enlightened me in addition to this article.
    Music Generates New Brain Neurons- http://www.tbyil.com/Music_Generates_New_Brain_Neurons_Barbara_Minton.htm
    the above researcher/link absolutely codifies what this article has conveyed.
    We artists/musicians at FameWizard are blessed to have such passionate individuals to enlighten our spirit!

  3. Absolutely agree with this article 100%! Music is the natural cosmic beat of the universe and is one of the two languages that translate across the great divide. I thank my lucky stars that my parents and grandfather started me on piano at the age of 5 because it was apparent how much I was drawn to music from my toddler years. It not only made for a happier childhood but also pushed me academically and enhanced my curiosity for life in numerous other areas. Thanks for sharing the article!

    -Marty
    San Jose, CA.
    Corduroy Jim
    http://www.corduroyjim.com

    • Ghezzi says:

      Thanks Marty! I heard music in my home from the day I was born. I know it impacted how I process new information and definitely affected my ability to be more efficient, and especially had an impact on my math skills. I am one of five siblings and the music in our home brought us all together and is a bond between us to this day.

      • Marty says:

        Hi Ghezzi,

        My brothers and I were the same. The bond that music created was something that I will always be grateful for.
        Great article and keep them coming! -Marty

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