Playing Music as a Protection Against Dementia

In a recent post we saw that music may help peo­ple with demen­tia learn new facts. This arti­cle explores anoth­er rela­tion­ship between music and demen­tia: play­ing a musi­cal instru­ment, even as an ama­teur, may pro­tect the brain lat­er on against demen­tia-relat­ed damages.

Researchers had 70 peo­ple ages 60 to 83 per­form a vari­ety of tests to mea­sure visu­ospa­tial mem­o­ry, abil­i­ty to name objects, the brain’s abil­i­ty to adapt to new infor­ma­tion […] those who had engaged in musi­cal activ­i­ty for 10 years or longer scored sub­stan­tial­ly bet­ter than those with no musi­cal activ­i­ty in their past.

the longer peo­ple play instru­ments, the more ben­e­fits they may derive.

All were ama­teurs who had start­ed play­ing when they were 10 years old.

the rela­tion­ship between cog­ni­tive skills and years of musi­cal activ­i­ty held up whether the musi­cians were cur­rent­ly involved in mak­ing music or not.

As the arti­cle points out this study shows an asso­ci­a­tion between play­ing a musi­cal instru­ment and cog­ni­tive skills, which does­n’t imply a cau­sa­tion effect. It is also not clear what in play­ing a musi­cal instru­ment is good for the brain. How­ev­er we know that pro­fes­sion­al musi­cians’ brains are dif­fer­ent in some areas that non-pro­fes­sion­al musi­cians’ ones. This sug­gests that play­ing a musi­cal instru­ment trig­gers neu­ro­plas­tic changes in the brain. These changes seem to con­tribute to brain/cognitive reserve and be neuroprotective.

Relat­ed post: Neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty: the poten­tial for life­long brain development

About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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