According to a study done by the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Georgia, even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions.
Want to 'train your brain'? Forget apps, learn a musical instrument
Musical training can have a dramatic impact on your brain’s structure, enhancing your memory, spatial reasoning and language skills
The multimillion dollar brain training industry is under attack. In October 2014, a group of over 100 eminent neuroscientists and psychologists wrote an open letter warning that “claims promoting brain games are frequently exaggerated and at times misleading”.(...)And a recent review examining studies purporting to show the benefits of such products found “little evidence ... that training improves improves everyday cognitive performance”.
“Music probably does something unique,” explains neuropsychologist Catherine Loveday of the University of Westminster. “It stimulates the brain in a very powerful way, because of our emotional connection with it.”
Playing a musical instrument is a rich and complex experience that involves integrating information from the senses of vision, hearing, and touch, as well as fine movements, and learning to do so can induce long-lasting changes in the brain.(...)Early brain scanning studies revealed significant differences in brain structure between musicians and non-musicians of the same age. For example, the corpus callosum, a massive bundle of nerve fibres connecting the two sides of the brain, is significantly larger in musicians.(...)Together, these studies show that learning to play a musical instrument not only increases grey matter volume in various brain regions, but can also strengthen the long-range connections between them.
Unlike commercial brain training products, which only improve performance on the skills involved, musical training has what psychologists refer to as transfer effects – in other words, learning to play a musical instrument seems to have a far broader effect on the brain and mental function, and improves other abilities that are seemingly unrelated.
“Music reaches parts of the brain that other things can’t,” says Loveday. “It’s a strong cognitive stimulus that grows the brain in a way that nothing else does, and the evidence that musical training enhances things like working memory and language is very robust.”