Music and Brain Health

Playing piano

A growing body of research suggests that music may be more than just entertaining but is also health-promoting and helps manage certain disease symptoms. Performing or listening to music activates the parts of the brain involved in sensation, movement, thinking, and emotions. By engaging our brains in this way, music can evoke emotional reactions and memories, promote social bonds, and even changes our brain’s physical structure.

Early research shows that music-based therapy has positive effects on physical, cognitive, social, and emotional needs. Music therapists are trained health professionals who provide music therapy in settings like hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. Music therapy may involve activities like music listening, performance, and improvisation. People with anxiety, depression, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis may benefit from music therapy.

Enjoying and creating music with others is also a wonderful way to increase social and community connections. When we sing or play music with others, we support brain health while having fun!

For more information on music and health research, visit the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, www.nccih.nih.gov.

Make Brain-healthy Lifestyle Choices

Man chopping vegetables

According to the Global Council on Brain Health, one way to keep your brain healthy is to make changes in your lifestyle. To reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, follow these tips:

  1. Make healthy food choices—eat berries, whole grains, fatty fish, vegetables, and lean protein.
  2. Complete crossword puzzles, read books, or take anew class to stimulate your brain.
  3. Use guided meditation or practice deep breathing to reduce stress.
  4. Aim for 7–9 consecutive hours of sleep by turning off electronic devices before bed.
  5. Stay connected with friends and family or participate in a local congregate meal site to remain socially active.
  6. Be sure to move in any way you enjoy, such as dancing, gardening, and vacuuming.

Source: Healthy Living While Aging, extension.unr.edu/

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