Just some thoughts on cognition, aging, and music

More than 2300 years ago, Plato said, “Music is a more potent instrument than any other for education, and children should be taught music before anything else.”

In fact, our brains and thought processes begin their development before we are born. As a child’s brain develops, connections are being made between trillions of neurons. If the brain does not use some of these neurons, it begins to eliminate them. The richer the environment of the child, the more developed the pathways of the neurons. The most powerful period of this development for both verbal and musical abilities occurs from birth to about age nine. Studying a musical instrument, particularly the piano, can be a profound benefit to this effect.

Why is this so?

First of all, playing any musical instrument can effect the way our brain works - and practicing an instrument regularly literally trains the brain to behave in a certain way. For instance, in 1993 in a study of preschool children who were taking keyboard lessons, researchers found that the children that received keyboard training performed 46% better on spatial-temporal tests than the other children. Spatial-temporal reasoning is a key to the higher brain functions required for mathematics, physics and engineering.

As We Age:
We have heard a lot about how our thinking changes as we grow older, about how our brain easily gets “stuck in a rut” and how the decline of cognitive thought is common. But it does not have to be a normal part of aging. The way our brain works and ages can be effected by us by keeping our brains limber, or elastic.

The theory of brain elasticity has gained acceptance in the world of education. As we age, our brain elasticity becomes static. Our traditional education is over and we’re probably good enough at our jobs that we’re not learning new skills. Our brains, then, are coasting on cruise-control and looking forward to a lazy retirement.

But not so fast! With a little brain gymnastics, we can ensure a longer, more rewarding life. By keeping your brain active and challenged, by involving it in thought you can stave off brain decline. One of the best ways to do this is to involve the brain in thought processes that use different parts of the brain simultaneously. Playing piano is the perfect activity for this purpose and it also happens to be a lot of fun.
We would love to hear comments that will generate further discussion on this subject!
Judul: Just some thoughts on cognition, aging, and music
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