“Musical activities are an engaging form of cognitive brain training and we are now seeing robust evidence of brain plasticity from musical training not just in younger brains, but in older brains too”.
—Gavin Bidelman, Assistant professor, University of Memphis
With the use of modern technology, scientists have uncovered surprising evidence that playing a musical instrument holds a great deal more benefits than we have ever imagined.
Scientists are now able to monitor brain activity in real-time using FMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging). These machines monitor activity in different parts of the brain. Researchers found that listening to music triggered ‘fireworks’ within the brain, suggesting activity in multiple parts of the brain simultaneously.Advertising
Playing music is described by Anita Collins in a TED Ed video: ‘how playing an instrument benefits your brain’ as the brain’s version of a ‘full-body workout’.
“The neuroscientists saw multiple areas of the brain light up simultaneously, processing different information in intricate, interrelated and astonishingly fast sequences.”
—Anita Collins, TED Ed
Neuroscientists found that the aesthetic and artistic factors of learning to play a musical instrument are unique when compared with any other activity studied, including other arts and sports.Advertising
Making music triggers activity in virtually every part of the brain at once, particularly the visual, auditory and motor cortices, and disciplined practice strengthens these areas. We can apply that strength to benefit other functions in day-to-day life.
Playing a musical instrument involves the mathematical and linguistic capacities of the left hemisphere of the brain in addition to the creative capacity of the right hemisphere. This strengthens the bridge between the two, allowing better communication between them. As a result, it is suggested that people who play musical instruments hone better problem-solving skills in both social and academic situations. Musicians are also known to demonstrate heightened memory functions in regard to storing, creating and retrieving memories more efficiently.
The ability to comprehend speech has been shown to be one of the cognitive factors affected by aging. The brain’s central auditory system weakens in later years, diminishing its ability to analyze, sequence, and identify acoustic features of speech.
New studies led by the Canadian Rotman Research Institute (RRI) suggest that older adults who begin playing musical instruments at a young age identify speech sounds 20% faster than their non-musical peers.Advertising
“Starting formal lessons on a musical instrument prior to age 14 and continuing intense training for up to a decade appears to enhance key areas in the brain that support speech recognition”.
—- Baycrest Center for Geriatric Care
The study consisted of 20 healthy adults between the ages of 55 and 75, half of whom were musicians and the other half non-musicians. They were asked to identify sounds ranging from random speech sounds, to simple single vowel sounds, to a more challenging and complex combination of the two.
With the use of EEG (Electroencephalography) imaging, scientists were able to measure the precise timing of electrical activity in the brain in response to the given stimuli. It was then identified that older musicians showed double or triple brain-behavior response compared to their non-musical counterparts.Advertising
Musical training commenced before the age of fourteen and carried out into adulthood offers a cognitive boost to developing brains. Additionally, the new findings suggest that these boosts carry on into old age, when the brain needs the added help most.
Whether you are a parent considering introducing your child to their first musical instrument at a young age or an older adult who may have begun playing music as a young person, the benefits of a musical lifestyle are endless. Starting musical training early is the key to an even brighter future.
Last Updated on May 24, 2019
How to Be Productive at Home and Make Every Day a Productive Day
If you’ve ever wondered how to be productive at home or how you could possibly have a more productive day, look no further.
Below you’ll find six easy tips that will help you make the most out of your time:
1. Create a Good Morning Routine
One of the best ways to start your day is to get up early and eat a healthy breakfast.
CEOs and other successful people have similar morning routines, which include exercising and quickly scanning their inboxes to find the most urgent tasks.
You can also try writing first thing in the morning to warm up your brain (750 words will help with that). But no matter what you choose to do, remember to create good morning habits so that you can have a more productive day.
If you aren’t sure how to make morning routine work for you, this guide will help you:
Sometimes we can’t have a productive day because we just don’t know where to start. When that’s the case, the most simple solution is to list everything you need to get accomplished, then prioritize these tasks based on importance and urgency.
Week Plan is a simple web app that will help you prioritize your week using the Covey time management grid. Here’s an example of it:
If you get the most pressing and important items done first, you will be able to be more productive while keeping stress levels down.
Lifehack’s CEO, Leon, also has great advice on how to prioritize. Take a look at this article to learn more about it:
3. Focus on One Thing at a Time
One of the biggest killers of productivity is distractions. Whether it be noise or thoughts or games, distractions are a barrier to any productive day. That’s why it’s important to know where and when you work best.
Need a little background noise to keep you on track? Try working in a coffee shop.
Can’t stand to hear even the ticking of a clock while writing? Go to a library and put in your headphones.
And here’s some great apps to help you focus: 10 Online Apps for Better Focus
4. Take Breaks
Focusing, however, can drain a lot of energy and too much of it at once can quickly turn your productive day unproductive.
To reduce mental fatigue while staying on task, try using the Pomodoro Technique. It requires working on a task for 25 minutes, then taking a short break before another 25 minute session.
After four “pomodoro sessions,” be sure to take a longer break to rest and reflect.
I like to work in 25 and 5 minute increments, but you should find out what works best for you.
5. Manage Your Time Effectively
A learning strategies consultant once told me that there is no such thing as free time, only unstructured time.
How do you know when exactly you have free time?
By using the RescueTime app, you can see when you have free time, when you are productive, and when you actually waste time.
With this data, you can better plan out your day and keep yourself on track.
Moreover, you can increase the quality of low-intensity time. For example, reading the news while exercising or listening to meeting notes while cooking. Many of the mundane tasks we routinely accomplish can be paired with other tasks that lead to an overall more productive day.
A bonus tip, even your real free time can be used productively, find out how:
6. Celebrate and Reflect
No matter how you execute a productive day, make sure to take time and celebrate what you’ve accomplished. It’s important to reward yourself so that you can continue doing great work. Plus, a reward system is an incredible motivator.
Additionally, you should reflect on your day in order to find out what worked and what didn’t. Reflection not only increases future productivity, but also gives your brain time to decompress and de-stress.
Try these 10 questions for daily self reflection.
More Articles About Daily Productivity
- Why Leisure Is the New Productivity and How to Reclaim Your Leisure Time
- Ditch Work Life Balance and Embrace Work Life Harmony
- 15 Productivity-Boosting Weekend Habits Of Successful People
- 20 Productive Hobbies That Will Make You Smarter and Happier
Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com
|||^||Inc.: 12 Things Successful People Do Before Breakfast|
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|||^||Real Time Board: Prioritize, plan, communicate and complete tasks with a RealtimeBoard Priority Matrix|