Break out your old CDs, records, and tape players – according to research from Johns Hopkins Medicine, music may be a simple and effective way to keep your mind sharp as you age. While experts are still working to understand the relationship between our brains and music, there are clear benefits to integrating it into your everyday life.
MRI scans show that brains light up when listening to music, especially when it causes an emotional reaction. As Johns Hopkins Medical reports, music’s structural and mathematical nature requires a lot of computing power from your brain to make sense of it. You can think of it as a workout for your brain. In fact, music therapy is becoming more popular around the world to rehabilitate victims of strokes, brain surgeries, and other injuries. This is because the neural activity generated while listening or playing music can prime the brain to make new connections and adapt. This is known as neuroplasticity.
Further, music could be helpful for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia to reconnect with their memories and the world around them. Your favorite music from years ago can be deeply associated with certain memories, and hearing it can jump-start memories from that time.
Johns Hopkins recommends trying music that is new to you, too. New music challenges the brain in ways that familiar tunes don’t. That unfamiliarity might be uncomfortable at first, but your brain works hard to understand the new sound. Research has shown other health benefits to music, such as reducing anxiety, blood pressure, pain, and improving sleep quality, mood, and alertness – all important health factors as you age.