Music Impacts Our Brains: Blood Flow Increases After Musical Training

First Posted: May 10, 2014 09:44 AM EDT

Do you play the piano? How about the guitar? It turns out that even brief musical training can impact our brains. Scientists have discovered that training can increase the blood flow in the left hemisphere of our brain, which suggests that the areas responsible for music and language share common pathways.

"the areas of our brain that process music and language are thought to be shared and previous research has suggested that musical training can lead to the increased use of the left hemisphere of the brain," said Amy Spray, one of the researchers, in a news release. "This study looked into the modulatory effects that musical training could have on the use of the different sides of the brain when performing music and language tasks."

In this case, the scientists conducted two separate studies. The first one involved looking for patterns of brain activity of 14 musicians and nine non-musicians while they participated in music and word generation tasks. The scientists found that the musicians' brains were similar in both tasks, but this wasn't the cast for non-musicians.

In the second study, the researchers measured patterns of brain activity of non-musicians who took part in a word generation task and a music perception task before and after they were given musical training. After musical training, the brains had significant patterns of correlation.

"It was fascinating to see the similarities in blood flow signatures could be brought about after just half an hour of simple musical training," said Spray in a news release. "Therefore we can assume that musical training results in a rapid change in the cognitive mechanisms utilized for music perception and these shared mechanisms are usually employed for language."

The findings were presented at the British Psychological Society annual conference hosted by the International Convention Center in Birmingham.

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