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Want to Get Smarter? Try Learning an Instrument

Want to Get Smarter? Try Learning an Instrument

For years, research has shown that there is a significant correlation between knowing how to play an instrument and having higher intelligence. However, this didn’t mean there was a causation, and there could be other variables that could have impacted the outcome of the tests.

More recent studies, however, have shown even more of a correlation between learning an instrument and a person’s intelligence, meaning there is likely a direct link between the two. Children and adults can take advantage of these potential benefits.

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The Correlation between Music and Increased IQ

Research has been done many times to see if there’s a correlation between learning an instrument and intelligence, and it has been found that those who have learned to play an instrument often are better at multi-tasking and are able to problem solve better than those who don’t know how to play music. Children in some of the recent studies have been tested for higher-level thinking, and those who knew how to play an instrument did better in this area than their counterparts who didn’t.

Studies are now being done to eliminate the potential for outside factors to also have an impact on the results, which can help narrow down whether there is an actual causation. Future studies have plans to watch the participants over a significant period of time to see just how learning how to play impacts their intelligence.

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The Right Age to Start Learning to Play Music

Parents who want to help their children excel in school may look to learning to play an instrument to help. Many parents have heard stories or learned about research showing those students who play an instrument tend to do better in school. However, they might not know when it’s a good idea for the child to start.

Some children will begin learning instruments at a young age. Three to five-year-olds can play simple instruments, and this can help them with their intelligence as well as fine motor skills and more. But a child of any age is going to be able to receive the benefits of learning an instrument, no matter how old they are when they start. It’s beneficial for any age and can be seen with just about any instrument the child might want to play.

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Can Learning to Play Music Still Benefit Adults?

Anyone can learn how to play an instrument, although it’s often easier if a person starts learning while they’re young. Adults who learn piano and other instruments will still receive some of the benefits of learning how to play and can strengthen their brain, helping to ward off failing memories as they get older. Studies in both children and adults have shown correlations between learning music and brain activity, suggesting that there is no limit to how old a person can be to obtain the benefits of playing music.

What About the Time it takes to Learn How to Play?

Many people worry about how to learn how to play music properly. There are, in fact, a variety of ways to learn how to play, which range from lessons with an instructor, to software programs that teach you on a computer. Some of them require a larger time commitment than others and the cost can vary depending on how a person wants to learn and how it’s easier for them to learn.

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  • On Their Own Through Books: A person can always use books to learn how to play on their own. This provides the advantage of learning at their own pace and in their own home, but they won’t have anyone to help them if they get stuck or to correct them if they’re making a mistake.
  • Formal Lessons with a Teacher: Formal lessons can help a person learn to play as they’ll have someone to show them how to do it and to help correct any mistakes they might make. However, the downside with this is often the cost and, for some people, the regular time commitment.
  • Lessons in School with a Teacher: School-aged children and adults in college often have the option of taking a music class. This can be an inexpensive way to start learning but does have the downside of not obtaining one-on-one help from a teacher.
  • Online Lessons: Those who want to learn to play on their own might benefit from online piano lessons through innovative programs like Quincy Jones’ Playground Sessions. They can practice whenever they have the time and, with some programs, can get the feedback they need to ensure they’re learning how to play the instrument correctly.

If you’d like to start learning how to play an instrument or you’d like to help your child start learning, make sure you look into the various options that might meet your needs. It’s been shown that learning to play the piano and other instruments can have a significant impact on a person’s intelligence, so it’s a good idea for anyone to go ahead and start learning today.

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Last Updated on September 10, 2018

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

We thought that the expression ‘broken heart’ was just a metaphor, but science is telling us that it is not: breakups and rejections do cause physical pain. When a group of psychologists asked research participants to look at images of their ex-partners who broke up with them, researchers found that the same brain areas that are activated by physical pain are also activated by looking at images of ex-partners. Looking at images of our ex is a painful experience, literally.[1].

Given that the effect of rejections and breakups is the same as the effect of physical pain, scientists have speculated on whether the practices that reduce physical pain could be used to reduce the emotional pain that follows from breakups and rejections. In a study on whether painkillers reduce the emotional pain caused by a breakup, researchers found that painkillers did help. Individuals who took painkillers were better able to deal with their breakup. Tamar Cohen wrote that “A simple dose of paracetamol could help ease the pain of a broken heart.”[2]

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Just like painkillers can be used to ease the pain of a broken heart, other practices that ease physical pain can also be used to ease the pain of rejections and breakups. Three of these scientifically validated practices are presented in this article.

Looking at images of loved ones

While images of ex-partners stimulate the pain neuro-circuitry in our brain, images of loved ones activate a different circuitry. Looking at images of people who care about us increases the release of oxytocin in our body. Oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone,” is the hormone that our body relies on to induce in us a soothing feeling of tranquility, even when we are under high stress and pain.

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In fact, oxytocin was found to have a crucial role as a mother is giving birth to her baby. Despite the extreme pain that a mother has to endure during delivery, the high level of oxytocin secreted by her body transforms pain into pleasure. Mariem Melainine notes that, “Oxytocin levels are usually at their peak during delivery, which promotes a sense of euphoria in the mother and helps her develop a stronger bond with her baby.”[3]

Whenever you feel tempted to look at images of your ex-partner, log into your Facebook page and start browsing images of your loved ones. As Eva Ritvo, M.D. notes, “Facebook fools our brain into believing that loved ones surround us, which historically was essential to our survival. The human brain, because it evolved thousands of years before photography, fails on many levels to recognize the difference between pictures and people”[4]

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Exercise

Endorphins are neurotransmitters that reduce our perception of pain. When our body is high on endorphins, painful sensations are kept outside of conscious awareness. It was found that exercise causes endorphins to be secreted in the brain and as a result produce a feeling of power, as psychologist Alex Korb noted in his book: “Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, neurotransmitters that act on your neurons like opiates (such as morphine or Vicodin) by sending a neural signal to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief.”[5] By inhibiting pain from being transmitted to our brain, exercise acts as a powerful antidote to the pain caused by rejections and breakups.

Meditation

Jon Kabat Zinn, a doctor who pioneered the use of mindfulness meditation therapy for patients with chronic pain, has argued that it is not pain itself that is harmful to our mental health, rather, it is the way we react to pain. When we react to pain with irritation, frustration, and self-pity, more pain is generated, and we enter a never ending spiral of painful thoughts and sensations.

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In order to disrupt the domino effect caused by reacting to pain with pain, Kabat Zinn and other proponents of mindfulness meditation therapy have suggested reacting to pain through nonjudgmental contemplation and acceptance. By practicing meditation on a daily basis and getting used to the habit of paying attention to the sensations generated by our body (including the painful ones and by observing these sensations nonjudgmentally and with compassion) our brain develops the habit of reacting to pain with grace and patience.

When you find yourself thinking about a recent breakup or a recent rejection, close your eyes and pay attention to the sensations produced by your body. Take deep breaths and as you are feeling the sensations produced by your body, distance yourself from them, and observe them without judgment and with compassion. If your brain starts wandering and gets distracted, gently bring back your compassionate nonjudgmental attention to your body. Try to do this exercise for one minute and gradually increase its duration.

With consistent practice, nonjudgmental acceptance will become our default reaction to breakups, rejections, and other disappointments that we experience in life. Every rejection and every breakup teaches us great lessons about relationships and about ourselves.

Featured photo credit: condesign via pixabay.com

Reference

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