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Study links being musical to better brain health as you age

Study links being musical to better brain health as you age
Posted at 12:45 PM, Feb 08, 2024

Singing or playing music is a fun and rewarding hobby. But did you know that being musical could actually help your brain age in a healthy way? That’s according to a study from experts at the University of Exeter, King’s College, Brunel University and Imperial College, which included more than 1,000 adults ages 40 and older.

The study was published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and looked at how playing a musical instrument or singing in a choir affected brain health. The researchers found that playing an instrument — especially the piano — and singing resulted in improved memory and executive function in older adults.

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The researchers reviewed data about people’s musical activities, then did cognitive testing to come up with their results. The study showed that playing an instrument later into life yields greater benefits. It also suggests that the benefits of singing may come from being part of a group.

“Although more research is needed to investigate this relationship, our findings indicate that promoting musical education would be a valuable part of public health initiatives to promote a protective lifestyle for brain health, as would encouraging old adults to return to music in later life,” Anne Corbett, professor of Dementia Research at the University of Exeter, said in a statement.

The study is just the latest to confirm the benefits of musicality on brain health, but music has other benefits, too. For instance, one study showed that parents and kids who listen to music together have closer relationships.

Whether you’ve been singing in a choir since your school days, just picked up the flute as an adult, or are ready to rock the mic at karaoke for the first time, this study proves that you shouldn’t underestimate the power of music.

Senior man plays piano at home for woman

Looking for more ways to keep your brain sharp as you age? Diet, sleep, mental health, exercise and social interaction are all considered pillars that support memory and brain function. So grab your friends to join you for a healthy meal, followed by a night of singing and dancing — but go to bed at a normal time. It just may be the most enjoyable and effective way to protect your brain.

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