Music Can Change the Structure of Your Brain

Music Can Change the Structure of Your Brain
Gema Sánchez Cuevas

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Gema Sánchez Cuevas.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

We’ve known for a long time that music plays an important role in learning. In fact, musical training stimulates different parts of the brain. Various studies have shown that listening to certain songs and melodies can improve memory in patients with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.

Music can help you retain information better and optimize learning. This is because it helps you pay attention, evokes emotions, and stimulates visual images. Students of all ages can use it to help them concentrate better and strengthen their memory of the material they’re learning.

One of the biggest advantages of using music to facilitate learning is that there’s a different style for each method of learning. Below, we outline some tips on how to use music to gain specific knowledge, according to the experts.

Which type of music is best to study to?

Now is a good time to make an important differentiation – studying is not the same thing as learning. While the goal of studying is to learn, not all learning is achieved through studying. While we know that music plays an important role in learning, many experts state that the best thing for studying is silence.

However, music can be a good way to create a certain environment. Researchers have found that certain melodies can improve certain cognitive abilities, such as spatial intelligence. They’ve also found that music can help put you in the perfect state of mind for studying.

girl listening to music while studying

For example, you can use an optimistic melody to motivate yourself to learn, especially songs with lyrics that promote positive thinking. You can also use music to elevate your energy levels, focus your attention on the material, or relax during break times.

Another way to utilize music is to stimulate and increase the strength of your memories, so that learning becomes more sensory and interactive. Certain melodies and lyrics can be very helpful for parents and professors when trying to teach their children and students.

Music can also be used to maintain concentration in situations where silence is not possible or it’s difficult to isolate yourself from other sounds that make it hard to concentrate. Many people struggle to pay attention when there’s a lot of background noise.

Researchers from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, recently discovered that listening to nature sounds can increase mood and focus. They can cover up all the unintelligible chatter in the background, while also improving cognitive functioning and optimizing concentration. While the study was focused on increasing worker productivity, its results are also based on concentration problems while studying.

Learning technical skills with music produces changes in the brain

In addition to the above benefits of listening to music, it’s also worth mentioning how it can help you learn physical skills. In a recent study done by researchers from the University of Edinburgh, published in the medical journal Brain and Cognition, they found that using music to learn or practice physical skills (implicit or procedural learning) fosters the development of an important part of the brain.

The researchers found that people who practiced basic movements while listening to music showed greater structural connectivity in brain areas associated with processing sound and controlling movement.

This is great news, especially for people who have lost some control of their movement. The study could have positive implications for future research into the rehabilitation of certain conditions that inhibit motor skills.

The study points to music as a key factor. The researchers state that music encourages people to move. This study provides the first experimental evidence that using musical cues for learning new motor skills can lead to structural changes in the white matter of the brain.

For the study, the researchers divided right-handed volunteers into two groups and had them learn a new skill that involved sequences of finger movements in their non-dominant hand. One group learned the task with musical cues, and one without.

After four weeks, both groups of volunteers performed the sequences well. However, after analyzing MRI images of the volunteers’ brains, they found that the group who learned with musical cues showed significantly more structural connectivity on the right side of the brain, while the group who learned without music showed no change. The team hopes that future research will determine whether music can help with special types of motor rehabilitation programs.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.