Music to your ears, and your brain: A novel approach to improving memory
Music is something the vast majority of us enjoy and appreciate. It tends to move us to our very core, and allows us to connect to emotions and experiences that might otherwise be untapped and unappreciated. It moves us from laughter to tears, from celebration to introspection, and all points in between. Importantly, though, music also uses parts of our brain, particularly memory systems, that otherwise often remain under-used. Recently researchers have shown that we can use this to our benefit.
Specifically, researcher’s have shown that using music to help learn new information seems to help it stay in memory better in Alzheimer’s patients. In general it seems to “awaken” parts of the brain, and also likely recruits parts of the brain to help process information more deeply, thus improving memory. For those who would like to explore this further there is an excellent documentary titled “Alive Inside.” It’s fascinating, educational, and inspiring. It explores one more area of human cognition that spotlights just how complex and marvelous our human brain really is.
As long as there is Alzheimer’s and related degenerative disorders we’ll keep looking for causes and better medical treatments. But, don’t forget the simple yet powerful things we can already do on a regular basis. Ipods are inexpensive, music is broadly and easily available, and now we know it can be not only enjoyable, but also help with memory and cognition. Take advantage of this easy intervention and see what it does for you and/or your loved one.