Island Senior: Music and Your Brain

Posted June 2, 2017 at 5:50 am by

Local Musicians - Photo Doug McCutchen

By Peg­gy Sue McRae -

Music is good for your brain. Most of us have expe­ri­enced hear­ing a piece of music and being trans­port­ed in time. Play me the Rolling Stones, Jump­ing Jack Flash, and its sum­mer, and I’m a teenag­er. That is because when we hear music, unlike oth­er activ­i­ties that are locat­ed in just one part of the brain, music is processed by a full net­work of neur­al activ­i­ty that enlivens the entire brain enhanc­ing mem­o­ry function.

Parts of the brain asso­ci­at­ed with mem­o­ry, emo­tion, cre­ativ­i­ty, and motor func­tion all light up when the music is play­ing. Accord­ing to research done at the Acad­e­my of Fin­land pro­cess­ing music acti­vates motor activ­i­ty sup­port­ing the idea that music and move­ment are very close­ly relat­ed. Not only does this mean that we were we born to boo­gie but music can even play a role in recov­er­ing motor func­tion after a stroke.

Delphinia Liles - Photo Peggy Sue McRae

Med­i­ta­tion is also good for your brain. Senior Ser­vices is offer­ing a new class start­ing June 15 at 10:00 am at the Mullis Cen­ter that will com­bine both music and med­i­ta­tion for the well­be­ing of your brain. Prac­tic­ing med­i­ta­tion for only two months, says Music and Mind­ful­ness instruc­tor Del­phinia Liles, “can actu­al­ly increase the den­si­ty of your brain’s grey mat­ter, espe­cial­ly in the hip­pocam­pus, result­ing in improved mem­o­ry and learn­ing abil­i­ty.” Fer­ris Jabr of Sci­en­tif­ic Amer­i­can notes that this area of the brain usu­al­ly shrinks as we age but “med­i­ta­tion coun­ter­acts this decay.”

Accord­ing to Del­phinia, “If you are try­ing to learn some­thing new, you will remem­ber it bet­ter if it is asso­ci­at­ed with music. Rhythm in music has an invig­o­rat­ing effect on us, helps our emo­tion­al health and releas­es endor­phins which reduce pain, stress and depres­sion.” All of the class activ­i­ties will be easy for any­one to do. “Come join us for Music and Med­i­ta­tion. Your brain will love you for it!

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