Music’s effect in the symmetry of the brain

“Music can be a transformative experience, especially for your brain. Musicians’ brains respond more symmetrically to the music they listen to. And the size of the effect depends on which instrument they play.”

Musicians undoubtedly have a keen sense of hearing, given their certain skills such as identifying pitch and mimicking tones by ear. Recent studies show that musicians possibly have larger, sharper, and more symmetrical brains than non-musicians.

“People who learn to play musical instruments can expect their brains to change in structure and function. When people are taught to play a piece of piano music, for example, the part of their brains that represents their finger movements gets bigger. Musicians are also better at identifying pitch and speech sounds – brain imaging studies suggest that this is because their brains respond more quickly and strongly to sound.

Other research has found that the corpus callosum – the strip of tissue that connects the left and right hemisphere of the brain – is also larger in musicians.”

Researchers from the University of Jyväskylä in Finland conducted a study between a group of professional musicians and a group of people who have never professionally played any musical instrument before. They used fMRI scanners to take a look at the participants’ brains.

“Once inside in the fMRI scanners, the subjects were subjected to three very different pieces of music: classical Stravinsky, Argentinian tango and progressive rock. The researchers were looking for flares in neurological activity in both hemispheres of the brain; as suspected, the patterns of activity in the musicians’ left and right hemispheres was far more symmetrical than that of non-musicians.

Intriguingly, the most symmetrical neurological display of the study was observed in the brains of the keyboard players. The researchers suggest that the kinematic symmetry – the symmetry of a musician’s physical movements as they play their instrument of choice – is directly linked to the level of neurological symmetry they have. “Keyboard players have a more mirrored use of both hands and fingers when playing,” Iballa Burunat, the lead author of the study; therefore, they are more likely to have synaptic symmetry than those playing stringed instruments.

As this study only tested the effect that listening to music, not actually playing it, had on the brain, these results suggest that practising musicians genuinely have a rewired brain, one that communicates more effectively than most even after they’ve put down their instruments.”



(Long overdue. 😦 )