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Learning a musical instrument is better than any brain-training app

Laura  Barnes
Learning a musical instrument is better than any brain-training app

We’ve all seen the abundance of apps on offer promising to improve maths ability, memory, language skills and more through brain training exercises and games.

While these apps and games are incredibly popular – I’ve played a fair few myself – the brain training industry has been attacked by scientists and psychologists over the years for exaggerating the results that can be achieved.

With one industry giant, Lumosity, being fined $2 million earlier this year for its false claims that its products improve general and age-related mental abilities, it seems brain training apps might not be beneficial at all.

A new report from The Guardian looks at how musical instrument training can be far more beneficial to the brain than any app.
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The research suggests that learning to play an instrument can be beneficial for children and adults alike. The act may even be helpful to patients recovering from brain injuries.

Catherine Loveday, a neuropsychologist at the University of Westminster, to the publication: “Music probably does something unique. It stimulates the brain in a very powerful way, because of our emotional connection with it”

Various studies suggest that learning to play an instrument not only increases grey matter volume in various brain regions, but can also strengthen the long-range connections between them.

One study shows that musical training can enhance verbal memory, spatial reasoning and literacy skills.

It appears that even short periods of musical training can have lasting benefits, and it turns out that it can even help patients recovering from a stroke or other forms of brain damage.

“Music reaches parts of the brain that other things can’t,” said Loveday. “It’s a strong cognitive stimulus that grows the brain in a way that nothing else does, and the evidence that musical training enhances things like working memory and language is very robust.”

Stimulating you brain isn’t the only reason for playing a music instrument. Earlier this year, MI Pro put together a list of 9 benefits of playing an instrument, including building confidence, relieving stress, and enhancing your respiratory system.

Read our ‘9 benefits of learning a musical instrument’ feature here.

Tags: the guardian , learning an instrument , brain training

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