How music rejuvenates your brain2
The brain of a musician is not like that of a non-musician. Musical practice activates brain’s plasticity, strengthening and creating new neural connections in the auditory cortex and other areas of the brain necessary for musical performance. However practising music – playing or singing-, not only develops musical skills, but we also improve those linked to language, arithmetic, attention, memory and learning.
Naturally, a young brain better absorbs environmental changes and restructures itself more easily than an adult brain. However, -and this is good news-, we now know that the brain is plastic by nature throughout its life. It is always adapting to new experiences, we do not lose the ability to learn, and we should exercise the brain as we do muscles; in fact, if we do not, it will age more quickly.
As a non-musician listening to music, you activate the auditory brain areas in general, and the right hemisphere (HD) in particular, as this is the creative hemisphere. It is dedicated to the imagination, intuition, spatial vision, or to the pure reception of the artistic aesthetics. However, a musician educated in understanding the structural logic of the works they play, will also activate other areas of the left hemisphere, the logical hemisphere, (HI), which processes language, calculation and reasoning in general.
Knowing and recognising the tonality, the chords, the cadences, the phrases, the motifs and musical cells, or the instrumentals and vocal tone colours which form the sonar planes also produces another cerebral benefit, because the stimulation is not only emotional but also cognitive.
The result is that in the brain of a musician neural circuits of the Corpus Callosum, which connects the two hemispheres are activated and strengthened, giving a greater balance between the two brain hemispheres. Source, Jordi A. Bauset (Cerebro y música. Una pareja saludable)
The question is this: can we learn to use the brain as a professional musician does to benefit from the effects of music? The answer is yes, provided we have a minimum knowledge of the structure of the musical work, and are willing to work with it mentally.
A key to its success is knowing how to use the ability in our favour to discriminate between tone colours, or similarly: to differentiate between a piano and a violin, or a trumpet and the human voice, just by listening. Tone colours structure musical works in to different sonar planes, and we can use this ability to differentiate and recognise to strengthen the attention, the memory and the ability to learn, -like a professional musician-, through a proper meditation technique based on the attention.
This method is known as Music Awareness Training, and is based on the conscious immersion in the musical work while attention remains on a concrete sonar plane guided by an instrument. The first experience is comparable to diving for the first time with open eyes into a crystal clear sea. On the one hand, the brain activates neural circuits of attention while reducing the activity of other circuits, thus, focus on what is being discovered.
On the other hand, the aesthetic pleasure we find in music causes the brain to release serotonin and dopamine, this invites you to repeat and repeat the experience. This makes the Music Awareness Training a simple, and very effective, technique that can help us keep our brain healthy.
Ignacio Botella Ausina