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Learning music or second language can make your brain more efficient

By learning to play music or mastering a new language, you can change the way your brain functions and make it more efficient.

fitness Updated: May 22, 2018 15:34 IST
Soma Das
Soma Das
Hindustan Times
Brain health,Health,Wellness
The study shows that individuals with either a musical or bilingual background activated different brain networks.(Shutterstock)

If you are facing memory problems, then you may want to exercise your brain. And playing crosswords is not the only way to do so. Previous studies have shown that eating chocolates, having 2 glasses of alcohol a day, doing yoga, and even playing video games can make your brain more efficient.

Now, a new study published in the journal Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, shows that learning to play a musical instrument or speaking another language can train your brain to be more efficient. In the study, individuals with either a musical or bilingual background activated different brain networks. A 2016 study had also shown that the elasticity of human brain may be enhanced by learning foreign languages.

“These findings show that musicians and bilinguals require less effort to perform the same task, which could also protect them against cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia,” said Claude Alain, a senior scientist at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute in Canada. “Our results also demonstrated that a person’s experiences, whether it’s learning how to play a musical instrument or another language, can shape how the brain functions and which networks are used,” said Alain.

Musicians and people who are bilingual have long been shown to have a better working memory, the ability to keep things in mind, or doing mental math. (Shutterstock)

Musicians and people who are bilingual have long been shown to have a better working memory, the ability to keep things in mind, such as remembering a phone number, a list of instructions or doing mental math. However, it remains a mystery as to why this is the case. This is the first brain imaging study looking at all three groups and this work uncovers how these activities boost different parts of the brain among individuals.

“People who speak two languages may take longer to process sounds since the information is run through two language libraries rather than just one,” said Alain, who is also an associate professor at the University of Toronto in Canada. “During this task, the brains of bilinguals showed greater signs of activation in areas that are known for speech comprehension, supporting this theory,” he said.

As a next step, researchers are exploring the impact of art and musical training among adults to see if this leads to changes in brain function.

(With inputs from PTI)

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First Published: May 22, 2018 15:31 IST