Basics of specific music effects in the brain.

In the brain, we know that everything connects to everything else, quite literally from front to back and from top to bottom. Only a small number of activities create as many network interconnections as music, from intellectual functions to motor operations. We are not certain which came first, language or music, though it is safe to say both most likely developed with and from each other. Sonic interactions with emotions are familiar to any listener. As a result we have been charting the development of auditory processing that provides keys to assist with dementia,stroke, Alzheimer’s, learning and attention disorders. The study cited below notes some benefits and possibilities.

Examining neural plasticity and cognitive benefit through the unique lens of musical training.
Moreno S1, Bidelman GM2. Hear Res. 2014 Feb;308:84-97. doi: 10.1016/j.heares.2013.09.012.

Abstract. Recent studies indicate that music training provides robust, long-lasting biological benefits to auditory function. Importantly, the behavioral advantages conferred by musical experience extend beyond simple enhancements to perceptual abilities and even impact non-auditory functions necessary for higher-order aspects of cognition (e.g., working memory, intelligence). Collectively, preliminary findings indicate that alternative forms of arts engagement (e.g., visual arts training) may not yield such widespread enhancements, suggesting that music expertise uniquely taps and refines a hierarchy of brain networks subserving a variety of auditory as well as domain-general cognitive mechanisms. We infer that transfer from specific music experience to broad cognitive benefit might be mediated by the degree to which a listener’s musical training tunes lower- (e.g., perceptual) and higher-order executive functions, and the coordination between these processes. Ultimately, understanding the broad impact of music on the brain will not only provide a more holistic picture of auditory processing and plasticity, but may help inform and tailor remediation and training programs designed to improve perceptual and cognitive benefits in human listeners. PMID: 24079993 [PubMed

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