a person playing a fluteCan music change your life? It can certainly change how your brain works. Research from the University of Liverpool Institute of Psychology, Health, and Society found that just 30 minutes of musical training can increase blood flow in the left hemisphere of the brain. This is is significant because it indicates that music and language share common brain pathways. Musical training could help the brain better process language.

The researchers conducted two experiments, comparing the brain activity of musicians and non-musicians. In the first experiment, 14 musicians and 8 non-musicians participated in music- and word-generation tasks while the researchers monitored their brain activity. In the second experiment, the researchers observed the brain activity of a different group of non-musicians while they completed a word-generation task and a music perception task. Afterwards, the non-musicians went through 30 minutes of music training and repeated the tasks.

The brain patterns from the first experiment indicated that musicians have similar brain patterns when using music and language, but this was not the case for the non-musicians. In the second experiment, the non-musicians had no brain pattern similarities at first, but after their 30 minutes of music training, there emerged a strong pattern of correlation.

According to Liverpool Psychologist Dr. Gerog Mayer, “This suggests that the correlated brain patterns were the result of using areas thought to be involved in language processing. Therefore we can assume that musical training results in a rapid change in the cognitive mechanisms utilized for music perception and these shared mechanisms are usually employed for language.”

This study was presented at the British Psychological Society’s annual conference.

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