September 14-20, 2020
Music and your brain
By Nan Selz
Executive Council, AARP Arkansas
According to a new report from the Global Council on Brain Health, music stimulates those parts of the brain responsible for memory, movement and mood. Music even induces different areas of the brain to work together simultaneously. As a result, music produces some serious benefits to your health. Music can improve sleep, sharpen memory, reduce stress and stimulate thinking skills.
The sound waves from music become nerve impulses that move from your ears to various parts of your brain. One part that is affected releases dopamine, the chemical that contributes to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. In 2020, AARP surveyed 3,100 adults and learned that people who listen to music rate their quality of life and happiness higher and their levels of anxiety and depression lower than other respondents.
As well as improving mood, music encourages you to move your body, and movement is another key to keeping the brain, as well as the body, healthy. Dancing and other movement to music improves balance and strength, boosts your mood even further, and can lead to social interaction with others, another key to avoiding cognitive decline. Listening to music while you exercise, enhances the experience and makes it seem easier.
Music is now being used to help adults recover from brain injuries and strokes and to ease the resulting symptoms. Many victims of stroke lose their ability to speak, but often they are still able to sing. Music therapists use music to help them regain their speech through singing. Many people with Parkinson’s disease have difficulty walking, but dancing to music can help strengthen their ability to walk.
No one type of music has an exclusive on these positive effects, so you can listen to whichever you prefer – folk, country, classical, rock, blues, rap. Familiar music can evoke positive memories and associations, and unfamiliar music might stimulate your brain. Whatever music you choose, you get positive results from listening.
The Global Council on Brain Health was founded by AARP and you can learn more on this subject and many more results of brain research at aarp.org/globalcouncilbh or globalcouncilonbrainhealth.org.