Function Better in Your Old Age by Playing Music

Admit it: you’ve always wanted to play guitar, or perhaps, you’ve been meaning to pick it up again. Either way, you should!

New research has found that people with musical training on any instrument were able to certain task better in their old age when compared to non-musicians. So pick up your neglected jaw harp and get going on bringing those tunes in your head to life!

“The older musicians not only outperformed their older non-musician counterparts, they encoded the sound stimuli as quickly and accurately as the younger non-musicians,” said Northwestern neuroscientist Nina Kraus. “This reinforces the idea that how we actively experience sound over the course of our lives has a profound effect on how our nervous system functions.”

Kraus, professor of communication sciences in the School of Communication and professor of neurobiology and physiology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, is co-author of “Musical experience offsets age-related delays in neural timing” published online in the journal “Neurobiology of Aging.”

“These are very interesting and important findings,” said Don Caspary, a nationally known researcher on age-related hearing loss at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. “They support the idea that the brain can be trained to overcome, in part, some age-related hearing loss.”

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Music Therapy Helps Brain Damaged Patients

Music therapy can help people who have severe brain damage regain control of their brain and heal faster. This is really nifty!

But how does music find a pathway inside a damaged brain that regular speech can’t negotiate? According to Morrow, it has to do with the parts of the brain where music comes from. And that there are so many of them.

“Music centres are all over the brain,” says Morrow. “I might be able to retrieve lyrics from the right side, from the middle, from the back of the brain. There are so many components to music that I can tap into … to reach words again and to reformulate them in the brain.”

In terms of human evolution, speech is a relatively recent addition to our compartmentalized brains. Some believe music may precede it. There’s no doubt that toddlers babble and vocalize long before they speak.

“It used to be thought that music was a superfluous thing, and no one understood why it developed from an evolutionary standpoint,” says Michael De Georgia, director of the Centre for Music and Medicine at Case Western Reserve University’s Medical Centre in Cleveland.

“In the last 10 years, we’ve just started to understand how broad and diffuse the effect of music is on all parts of the brain,” he added. “We are just starting to understand how powerful music can be.”

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Get Cultured for a Happier Life

People who play an instrument, go to museums, or are otherwise involved in culture are happier than those who don’t according to a new study. This is great news for people who want to feel happier or generally improve your life because all you have to do is essentially go and be entertained!

Researchers led by Koenraad Cuypers of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology analysed information culled from 50,797 adults living in Norway’s Nord-Trondelag County.

The participants were asked detailed questions about their leisure habits and how they perceived their own state of health, satisfaction with life and levels of depression and anxiety.

The results were unambiguous and somewhat unexpected: not only was the correlation strong between cultural activities and happiness, but men felt better when they were spectators while women clearly preferred doing rather than watching.

Even more surprising was that wealth and education were not an issue.

Read the full article at MNN.

Haydn Makes You Healthy

Well not just Haydn, or classical music for that matter – a recent study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health has shown that the greater an individual’s engagement in cultural activities, the greater the benefit to their personal health. This trend exists across many different artistic and creative pursuits, and affects both men and women. The participants in the study were asked questions concerning their health, satisfaction in life, and levels of anxiety and depression, as well as questions pertaining to their involvement in participatory (playing an instrument, painting, singing, etc.) or receptive (going to a concert or play) culture.

Both types of cultural activity were linked with good health, wellbeing, low stress and low depression even when other factors, such as social background and wealth, were taken into account. In men the effect was most pronounced in those who preferred to get their dose of culture as an observer rather than doing something more hands on.

So next time you’re feeling down or under the weather, get out there and indulge your creative side!

Read the full article at the BBC.

Downloading Music to Lower Your Carbon Footprint

Going digital is a good way to lower your carbon footprint when it comes to buying music. A new study has been released that assesses the carbon impact of various ways to purchase music from downloading to driving to the mall to buy a CD. It is not shocking to see that digital music is the best way to get tunes.

What this means for the future of music piracy? Well I think yet again we may find that piracy is surprisingly green.

That scenario involves a customer buying a CD online and having it delivered via a light-duty truck; the more carbon-intensive options examined by the study are express air shipment of the CD, and the customer visiting a store to buy the CD.

The advantage for digital comes largely because CDs must be manufactured, packaged and transported over long distances.

Even in a situation in which a consumer downloads the music — and then burns it onto a CD and puts it in a CD case — the carbon differential is 40 percent in favor of the download, the study found. If the downloaded music is not burned onto a CD, the differential rises to 80 percent.

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