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Music for the ageing brain: Cognitive, emotional, social, and neural benefits of musical leisure activities in stroke and dementia.

Särkämö T1.

Abstract – LINK

Music engages an extensive network of auditory, cognitive, motor, and emotional processing regions in the brain. Coupled with the fact that the emotional and cognitive impact of music is often well preserved in ageing and dementia, music is a powerful tool in the care and rehabilitation of many ageing-related neurological diseases. In addition to formal music therapy, there has been a growing interest in self- or caregiver-implemented musical leisure activities or hobbies as a widely applicable means to support psychological wellbeing in ageing and in neurological rehabilitation. This article reviews the currently existing evidence on the cognitive, emotional, and neural benefits of musical leisure activities in normal ageing as well as in the rehabilitation and care of two of the most common and ageing-related neurological diseases: stroke and dementia.

YOUR AGING BRAIN WILL BE IN BETTER SHAPE IF YOU’VE TAKEN MUSIC LESSONS

Section from National Geographic Article – LINK

YOU CAN START NOW

It’s not too late to gain benefits even if you didn’t take up an instrument until later in life. Jennifer Bugos, an assistant professor of music education at the University of South Florida, Tampa, studied the impact of individual piano instruction on adults between the ages of 60 and 85. After six months, those who had received piano lessons showed more robust gains in memory, verbal fluency, the speed at which they processed information, planning ability, and other cognitive functions, compared with those who had not received lessons.

More research on the subject is forthcoming from Bugos and from other researchers in what appears to be a burgeoning field. Hervé Platel, a professor of neuropsychology at the Université de Caen Basse-­Normandie, France, is embarking on a neuroimaging study of healthy, ageing non­musicians just beginning to study a musical instrument.

And neuroscientist Julene Johnson, a professor at the Institute for Health and Aging at the University of California, San Francisco, is now investigating the possible cognitive, motor, and physical benefits garnered by older adults who begin singing in a choir after the age of 60. She’ll also be looking the psycho­social and quality-of-life aspects.

“People often shy away from learning to play a musical instrument at a later age, but it’s definitely possible to learn and play well into late adulthood,” Bugos says.

Moreover, as a cognitive intervention to help aging adults preserve, and even build, skills, musical training holds real promise. “Musical training seems to have a beneficial impact at whatever age you start. It contains all the components of a cognitive training program that sometimes are overlooked, and just as we work out our bodies, we should work out our minds.”Sure, your friends might laugh when you sit down at the piano, but your brain may well have the last laugh.