How playing an instrument benefits your brain – Anita Collins


How playing an instrument benefits your brain – Anita Collins

Did you know that every time
musicians pick up their instruments, there are fireworks going off
all over their brain? On the outside,
they may look calm and focused, reading the music and making the precise
and practiced movements required. But inside their brains,
there’s a party going on. How do we know this? Well, in the last few decades, neuroscientists have made
enormous breakthroughs in understanding how our brains work
by monitoring them in real time with instruments like
fMRI and PET scanners. When people are hooked up
to these machines, tasks, such as reading
or doing math problems, each have corresponding areas of the brain
where activity can be observed. But when researchers got
the participants to listen to music, they saw fireworks. Multiple areas of their brains
were lighting up at once, as they processed the sound, took it apart to understand elements
like melody and rhythm, and then put it all back together
into unified musical experience. And our brains do all this work
in the split second between when we first hear the music
and when our foot starts to tap along. But when scientists turned
from observing the brains of music listeners to those of musicians, the little backyard fireworks
became a jubilee. It turns out that while listening
to music engages the brain in some pretty interesting activities, playing music is the brain’s equivalent
of a full-body workout. The neuroscientists saw
multiple areas of the brain light up, simultaneously processing
different information in intricate, interrelated,
and astonishingly fast sequences. But what is it about making music
that sets the brain alight? The research is still fairly new, but neuroscientists
have a pretty good idea. Playing a musical instrument engages practically every area
of the brain at once, especially the visual,
auditory, and motor cortices. As with any other workout, disciplined,
structured practice in playing music strengthens those brain functions,
allowing us to apply that strength to other activities. The most obvious difference between
listening to music and playing it is that the latter requires
fine motor skills, which are controlled
in both hemispheres of the brain. It also combines the linguistic
and mathematical precision, in which the left hemisphere
is more involved, with the novel and creative
content that the right excels in. For these reasons,
playing music has been found to increase the volume and activity
in the brain’s corpus callosum, the bridge between the two hemispheres, allowing messages to get across the brain
faster and through more diverse routes. This may allow musicians to solve problems more effectively and creatively,
in both academic and social settings. Because making music also involves
crafting and understanding its emotional content and message, musicians often have higher levels
of executive function, a category of interlinked tasks that includes planning, strategizing,
and attention to detail and requires simultaneous analysis
of both cognitive and emotional aspects. This ability also has an impact
on how our memory systems work. And, indeed, musicians exhibit
enhanced memory functions, creating, storing, and retrieving memories
more quickly and efficiently. Studies have found that musicians appear
to use their highly connected brains to give each memory multiple tags, such as a conceptual tag,
an emotional tag, an audio tag, and a contextual tag, like a good Internet search engine. How do we know that all these benefits
are unique to music, as opposed to, say, sports or painting? Or could it be
that people who go into music were already smarter to begin with? Neuroscientists have explored
these issues, but so far, they have found that the artistic
and aesthetic aspects of learning to play a musical instrument are different from any other activity
studied, including other arts. And several randomized studies
of participants, who showed the same levels of cognitive function
and neural processing at the start, found that those who were exposed
to a period of music learning showed enhancement in multiple
brain areas, compared to the others. This recent research about
the mental benefits of playing music has advanced our understanding
of mental function, revealing the inner rhythms
and complex interplay that make up the amazing
orchestra of our brain.

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100 thoughts on “How playing an instrument benefits your brain – Anita Collins”

  1. RaptorTV says:

    Прочитал бесполезна для мозга

  2. Ömer Arin says:

    demonstration of signals of two hemispheres look like paris subway map;))

  3. SpaceBeam says:

    Any harmonica players here?

  4. Vicarious Gamer says:

    I've been playing guitar for oh, about 40 years. 4 albums under my belt. Not anything critically acclaimed, but I did make a small name for myself, And absolutely… When I get into composing mode my mind is everywhere at once. So many notes, chords, arpeggios flood my mind and it's difficult to settle upon what I call "pieces" of music that I might include into the song. I can imagine how many lights are switched on while indulging in the composition process. It's really a wonderful feeling. Interestingly calming stressors.

  5. 김나영 says:

    So if i want a better SAT score, i should start playing the piano…

  6. Paz riveros says:

    Did this study include singing?

  7. David Ziranu says:

    Io suono il pianoforte 👍

  8. Mayte Piñeiro says:

    Eso es así con cualquier instrumento? Y con cualquier tipo de música? Porque con la batería, por ejemplo, no se trabaja la motricidad fina…y la música roquera, es más bien ruido que música

  9. Mayte Piñeiro says:

    Eso es así con cualquier instrumento? Y con cualquier tipo de música? Porque con la batería, por ejemplo, no se trabaja la motricidad fina…y la música roquera, es más bien ruido que música

  10. Poppy Jenner says:

    So cute

  11. Rasesh Gandhi says:

    Thank you so much

  12. Kaltra Cobaj says:

    Im glad i've started playin ukelelee 😋. Where are my uke players😁?

  13. Snow Crest says:

    We need a study of how flying a jet/being a pilot affects the brain. This is very similar to playing music in a group, as you need fine motor movements, you need to have very good spatial orientation, moments of intense concentration followed by a more relaxed situation, smooth finesse on the controls much like playing an instrument, and interaction with the pilot next to you, plus air traffic control, plus weather. No doubt it takes both sides of your brain.

    As a side note: I just saw the Rolling Stones in concert and Mick Jagger is a roll model for the rest of us as a 76 year old rock star. I would guess he will be doing this into his 80s with the singing, dancing, and playing an instrument. He had a 2+ hour workout on stage.

  14. Tim R. says:

    I am a drummer. Now i feel great.

  15. Guitalele Specialist says:

    So proud i'm a guitarist😀

  16. SouthernIowaLady says:

    My brain feels incomplete when I don't have / take time to practice. The day isn't good without performance time.

  17. మాధురి ఎన్ says:

    Summary: just learn to play an instrument its good for ur brain

  18. Circumflêx ÂÂÂ says:

    I hope learning languages and articulating words will do the same cuz I really have no talent in composing music whatsoever

  19. F i o n a says:

    I thought I was good at maths bc I was Asian
    Oh wait…

  20. RanBelGaming says:

    Flute gang STAND UP

  21. Space Explorer says:

    I m a beatboxer means I m a noise maker haha

  22. Anbu Thomas says:

    I was weak 😔 in my studies slow learner but in guitar i compled my 8th grade

  23. SagacityCity says:

    any pianists here? 🙂

  24. Jorge Martín says:

    What will happen to my brain if i only play John Cage's 4'33" for all my life….????

  25. violinning human says:

    Time for some ego stroking

  26. violinning human says:

    If musician brains are alot of fireworks, lingling's is a nuclear explosion

  27. Rachel Malonish says:

    Omigosh U guys have to go watch Yesong Sophie Lee playing violin she’s so freaking good I saw her on YouTube ahhhh I wanna meet her so baddd

  28. me.mowgli says:

    0:56 the SMILE

  29. Kenshin Vang says:


  30. Vanessa Cortes says:

    I Play The Violin 🎻🎶🎶
    I Love Playing This Beautiful Instrument

  31. the 7th letter says:

    The music never stops

  32. S A Y O - N A R A says:


  33. DarkSlidGamer says:

    Does PC, Mobile, and Xbox count as Instruments?

  34. Shanaenae says:

    All i can say is, the amination is such a cutie 😍

  35. Camila Rossini says:

    Imagine if you played for 40 hours a day…

  36. Theo Suharto says:

    *insert sad EDM noises*

  37. Philip Huang says:

    So guitar hero makes me smart

  38. Sungle Live says:

    it is useful primarily for the soul, and the brain is just an organ

  39. Dragon says:

    Have you ever seen a programmers brain during competitive programming

  40. Dmytro Doubinsky says:

    *watching this for self-esteem boost*😂

  41. Iresh Fernando says:

    I’m a professional pianist 🎹 and i’ve been doing music for 13 years now

  42. Dr Thot Swatter says:

    Basically this video is sayin musicians are big brain moment

  43. Hakan Çilenk says:

    Scientists should have studied on Allan Holdsworth's brain.

  44. Josh Edenfield says:

    Been playing guitar 15 years now :p

  45. Kazuto Kirigaya says:

    Karının amını fayda sağlar

  46. Amethyst DaWolf says:

    I'm hoping drawing does the same thing

  47. High priest of the church of tea says:

    1:45 alright mate but that’s just the tube map

  48. Defi Munawaroh says:

    Its not all true but some are.

  49. Heberth Sarmiento says:

    Seria bueno que lo pasen en español. yo toco tres instrumentos y siempre considero que me falta mucho por aprender el cielo es el limite.

  50. Peter says:

    1:45 train in Tokyo

  51. brownpunk says:

    So how about skin flute..i have been playing this since i was 13..i am a maestro..

  52. Faith G says:

    My music director played this video during a band concert once!

  53. Serdar Ataş says:


  54. John Is some random dude says:

    Viola gang
    Viola gang
    Viola gang
    Viola gang
    Viola gang
    Viola gang
    Viola gang

  55. Diamonds are the best says:

    Who watching this after they quit an instrument

  56. Kay says:


  57. Android Man says:

    I see here 1K Illiterates so far. 😛 😜 😝😛 😜 😝

  58. sabin97 says:

    1k people dont play any instruments….and are salty about it….

  59. Chilldown Music says:

    Is mayonnaise an instrument?

  60. Bryant Anniban says:

    Like, I want to be a musician right now!

  61. Yusuf Özhan says:

    vay arkadas be müthiş türkçe alt yazı ekleyen arkadaşlara teşekkür ederim

  62. Danilo Estudo says:


  63. Sambhavi Gupta says:

    I play guitar, piano and flute😁

  64. The School of Rhythm - Let's Drum London! says:

    I am a professional musicians so I like to hear this.
    However I am very cautious of so called 'authorities' and 'according to research, scientists found that….'
    I was rather shocked about the comments regarding the so called the 'enhanced memory functions of musicians. Especially when it is said that we are 'creating, storing and retrieving memories more efficiently'. How were scientists able to estimate this 'increased efficiency'…? After half a century performing worldwide, I have observed that a lot of musicians are completely messed up mentally, have social relationships problems and many can't remember their name until the 4th coffee after breakfast at 11 am. I am not speaking of guys on drugs.
    It is not known by science today where memory is stored. It is one of the big enigma of the brain to the extent that some scientists question whether the brain has anything to do with it.
    It also says that 'musicians give their memories multiple tags such as' (then 4 tags follow). This I am sorry is ridiculous. 32 perceptions have been isolated in any human being and it was observed that each memory contains most if not all of these perceptions. We are talking 32 tags. Everyone is recording this. Each mental image picture contains those tags. Without them memories are lost for ever and one couldn't remember. So it is a very nice video which makes us feel like we are very special beings compared to the rest. But it contains loads of bollocks and I would take it with a pinch of salt.
    This said, what for me is true in this video, is that learning and playing an instrument is a challenging, enjoyable and uplifting activity which puts one above the rest in terms of happiness and that it does develops abilities unknown to Joe Blog. Musicians – artists – also possess this exceptional characteristic: our ultimate product is happy people. We are spreading happiness and that's what we do.
    I just won't bring in the scientific world into the picture. Science being so removed from Art, is unable to judge or understand it. It is trying too hard.

  65. raphul says:

    einstein used to play violin

  66. Chase Ramos says:

    does this include music producers too minus motor skills?

  67. pqikwe says:

    Jesus loves u

  68. Tracy Du says:

    I play the violin

  69. time traveler says:

    Oh my gosh i plan on doing so much things in my life

  70. Pilar Faúndez says:

    Llevo años y nada :v

  71. Elizabeth Glasby says:

    im level 10 at piano and have dyslexia and horrible at solving problems?? lots of this not true

  72. Lily Cai says:


  73. JaeBum Lim says:

    lingling can play all instruments at once with her/his feet

  74. Mony. v says:

    I just need another excuse to say im smart just because i play a stick with holes and buttons

  75. K. M. says:

    As a pianist, I feel special <3

  76. Harrison Hazza says:

    This just made me play my old keyboard.

  77. Memiliano says:

    *Off-key Kazoo *

  78. 令翹 says:

    That's why Ling Ling can be a doctor

  79. Resting Stitch Face says:


  80. Barış Büyükkılıç says:

    Who does djent on guitar?

  81. Heavy Infantry says:

    God why is he plucking between the bridge and fingerboard

  82. klukva36 says:

    Ложь, пиздешь и провокация. Говорб как музыкант.

  83. Jasmine Villarba says:

    Now I know how to save money on new year…

  84. хлеб says:


  85. Baran Lestrange says:

    I'm just watching this to reassure myself that playing my clarinet for hours is productive and I'm not playing it because I have no friends.

  86. aminoacidcereal says:

    God I'm so glad I didn't give up on piano all these years

  87. I Eat Plastic says:

    I play the cello. Any others?

  88. Siobhra DeWar says:

    How soon after starting an instrument should I expect to see myself get smart?

  89. Dunsparcepoop Ok. says:


  90. Moonlight_Playz200 Woo! says:

    I was watching this while putting together my clarinet 🙂

  91. Natasja says:

    How come some people with Alzheimer's or dementia sometimes still remember how to play music, while they have forgotten everything else? Could somebody help me by explaining this?

  92. Tico says:

    drums count right? haha right? right?

  93. Jerome Pullian says:

    Hello pianists/keyboardists! 🖐

  94. Alana Sikora says:

    Ling Ling's brain must have a 1383838838383999388326696969696 pack

  95. Hue Hue says:

    "I play 3 chords in a guitar so I'm a 200iq musician"

  96. shiba is me says:

    Is meat considered as an instrument?

  97. Ayelet Maravilla says:

    I feel so good about myself right now.

  98. lil ava says:

    This is such an useful video. This helped me really much on playing the guitar. I have difficulties playing guitar and I about to give up on it when I got motivated and started playing guitar again after watching this. Thank you and wish you guys have a good day:)

  99. George Balanay says:

    Can i use mayonaise as an instrument

  100. JEYDAN HULSE says:

    good video

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