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Music Can Grow and Heal the Brain

Updated on May 27, 2017
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Degrees in medicine, psychology & sports. 20+ yrs research/treatment in allopathic & alternative medicines, brain studies, space medicine.

Music is Mandatory for Life

My educational research experience agrees with the reports of major universities and the Kennedy Center for the Arts. Music is mandatory in society and nearly all societies use music.

These studies show that speaking grammatically correct language to an infant or young child, age infant through K, along with providing exposure to music and the arts, create the necessary gray-matter and white-matter brain cell connections via active cell axon (signal transmitter) proliferation and growing synapses (signal "jump points") in the infant and childhood brain.

The same is true for the adult brain and even for injured child and adult brains.

Language, music, and arts all have mathematical components. These "Non-mathematical" disciplines set the stage for mathematical and logical learning and understanding.

Music in the Hearing and Non-Hearing

Hearing and mimicking language, hearing music, and exposure to arts also create additional synapses in the brain.

These synapses are "jump points" across which data signals from axons travel between two cells or among many cells in a network (Please see images below).

The more synapses that exist together with increasing numbers of transmitter axons, the greater the ability of the brain to learn and to apply information. IQ even rises in this phenomenon. Listening to music does this for most humans.

As with any trend, there are exceptions. However, even the deaf can benefit, proven by the fact that the world's number one percussionist, including on the very musical xylophone, is profoundly deaf since age 12: Dame Evelyn Glennie of the UK. She feels the frequencies of musical notes. and listens with her whole body.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
One synapse in the human brain. Brain cell (neuron); Richard Mobbs. Adult brain cells do not stop growing, proved by MIT research. Music can stimulate growth in brain cells, adult or child.
One synapse in the human brain.
One synapse in the human brain. | Source
Brain cell (neuron); Richard Mobbs. Adult brain cells do not stop growing, proved by MIT research. Music can stimulate growth in brain cells, adult or child.
Brain cell (neuron); Richard Mobbs. Adult brain cells do not stop growing, proved by MIT research. Music can stimulate growth in brain cells, adult or child. | Source

American Sign Language and sign languages of other nations access both language and motor (movement) processing; therefore, deafness does not eliminate language as important. Language is irrevocably linked with personality and culture in an individual. Music and arts make up culture, along with other elements.

Language, music, and arts all have mathematical components. They set the stage for mathematics learning and understanding, particularly.

In the late 1960s, The Ohio State University ensured that a tape of Baroque Music was packed with every math textbook for students, because that style of music increased mathematics learning when it was played while the student studied mathematics.

In middle school and high school enrichment programs at the Private Industry Council Learning Center in Central Ohio from 1995 through 2003, this type of music was shown to increase learning in all core subjects. Among two dozen summer learning program participants in 7-8th grade during the same years, reading level scores increased from 3rd and 4th grade to 6th to 8th grade scores through drawing pictures in the presence of music under the instruction of a certified art therapist.

Music was also played. In short, the more they drew, the better these youth were able to process spoken and written language. The better they could process language, the more they could write in a cohesive way that made sense. The more they could do this, the more they were able to relax and smile.

In Pre-K classes for 3- and 4-year-olds in our public school systems, the agenda is to talk to the children, do art with them, play music and have them march and dance to it, and to exercise in other ways for 3 hours a day. These children are entering 1st grade, having already learned ABCs, numbers from 1 - 100, and other skills without drills and memorization.

Sources:

  • Inglish, Patty; MS. Linden Opportunities Center Case Records. 1995 - 2003.
  • The Ohio State University College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Mathematics; Archives. 1968 - 1974.
  • Kennedy Center for the Arts. Critical Evidence for Music. Critical Evidence: How the Arts Benefit Student Achievement. PDF booklet, 24 pages.
  • Kennedy-Inspired National Arts and Disability Center. Mission: to promote the full inclusion of audiences and artists with disabilities into all facets of the arts community. All sapsects of the arts, including careers and film festivals.
  • Research News at Vanderbilt. New Program Set to Explore Effects of Music on the Mind. September 3, 2015.
  • Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. Extensive site concerning human development, including music and its impact on health, healing, and learning - including music camps for learning disabled youth.

The Program for Music, Mind, and Society at Vanderbilt harnesses the teaching and research resources of the Vanderbilt School of Medicine, Peabody College, College of Arts and Science, School of Engineering and the Blair School of Music...including Psychology, Neuroscience, Medicine, Education and Music Performance.

— Matt Batcheldor at Vanderbilt; September 3, 2015

Brain Development K-12

On the other hand, sit a baby in a corner in a crib unattended all day, as some youngsters do that have had children of their own, or sit a young child in a chair or in their room and ignore them until they are 6, and they will most often turn out not very bright and too much toward sedentary, for the rest of their lives. Some of this trend can be overcome in certain individuals.

Certain computer games, educational PC programs, and even music and action on TV can counter some of these affects; and some of these children benefit from this. Others of these children become isolated, aggressive, and unable to develop social skills.

The importance of music, then, is why our nation's school systems should not cut out music and the arts, as some systems have done. Music, arts, and exercise, create the necessary connections in the brain that are required to ready the human child to be able to learn, understand, and perform in reading, mathematics, science, and other subjects.

We cannot skip the preparation of language, music and arts for the brain and go directly to memorization drills and hope for long-term success in academics.

We cannot skip the preparation of language, music and arts for the brain and go directly to memorization drills. It is not working. However, these have always been the items cut from school budgets with the excuse that they are "frivolous."

Hands-on learning through actually doing projects that combine several subjects together helps children and youth that have not been exposed to the simulation of early language, music, and arts. Most of these individuals are better able to learn this way that through memorization. How much better they could learn if they had had the stimulation of music, the arts, and language processing via listening, early on.

Music and participation in music are very important elements of human brain development. Human cultural development includes music, arts, and language. It must all be preserved and encouraged.

Music Therapy and the Brain

Music therapy is a successful adjunct to other rehabilitation modalities for former US Representative Gabby Giffords, following her 2011 politically-motivated gunshot wound to the head. She continues to heal via speech, music, occupational, and physical therapies and her service dog Nelson. In 2013, she received the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.

Ms. Gabrielle Giffords speaking at a campaign rally at Arizona State University in 2016.
Ms. Gabrielle Giffords speaking at a campaign rally at Arizona State University in 2016. | Source

Gabby Gifford's Speech in 2016

Oliver Sacks - Music and Parkinson's Disease

Brain Music Therapy

© 2008 Patty Inglish

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    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 9 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Super Hub! I can't agree with you more!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      O wow, you commented fast! Your brain is very smart!

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 9 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Lots of music instruction growing up. :-)

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
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      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      Lucky You!

    • cgull8m profile image

      cgull8m 9 years ago from North Carolina

      Great Hub, it will help the elderly and also to us to exercise our minds.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
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      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      You're right, cgull8m. I need to listen to more music, come to think of it.

    • profile image

      Jana Murray 9 years ago

      I find it fascinating that even deaf people can benefit from music, fantastic.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
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      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      Yes, indeed. Evelyn Glennie often performs barefoot so she can feel the vibrations more clearly form the stage she stand upon. She's made a Film entitled Touch the Sound.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Patty! Life would really be awfull without music. I often thought what a shame that the deaf can not hear any of this beauty. Having read your hub I feel better...

      great HUB regards Zsuzsy

    • Hovalis profile image

      Hovalis 9 years ago from Australia

      Great hub! I've actually read in more than one place that listening to classical music before trying to memorise something can increase your chances of retention. I hadn't realised why it worked until reading this hub.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
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      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      Zsuzsy - I'm glad you came by to read this, Evelyn Glennie is supernatureal almost, but I've read where the deaf brain can rewire itself to understand music.

      Hovalis - Thanks for coming to read my Hub -- Music does really work and it's fun! I always used music to help memorize poetry in high school :) If I srudied it right before I went to bed, by music in the background, I would awake and know the whole poem in the morning!

    • profile image

      Sharon Rosen Lopez 9 years ago

      Great post Patty! As a speech/language pathologist, I've seen some phenomenal results of therapeutic listening systems with children who have various behavioral, fine/gross motor and /or speech/language needs. There's an occupational therapist, Sheila Frick, who travels nationally (internatonally?) training people in use of her therapeutic listening cds. Intriguing stuff for sure! I myself trained with Sheila sevreral years ago to learn about her system.

    • MrMarmalade profile image

      MrMarmalade 9 years ago from Sydney

      You would think the seven people in our family would be great musicians.

      Val's Uncle was a prodigy in the land of Violins. I am tone deaf and Val knows and understands.

      Five children all love musice none of them anygood.

      Val and I both love Classical music.

      A friend of ours has had three major Operations in three weeks. Three weeks later she is leading an orchestra.

      Great Hub

    • profile image

      Abhinaya 9 years ago

      I know nothing about music Patty but my son wants to learn keyboard.I just read music increases memory so I thought I'll put him in music class.Do you think it can be learnt easily at any age?I would like you to answer this because I want to know what would be the best instrument for him to learn.He is almost 10.

    • Garry Nelson profile image

      Garry Nelson 9 years ago from Hawaii

      Great hub. When I was a boy I used to draw all the time. I was told by an old man once who had seen my drawings to draw several pictures every day for as much of my life as possible as it would increase my IQ.

      I hope that is sort of relative, the hub just brought it to mind.

    • Peter M. Lopez profile image

      Peter M. Lopez 9 years ago from Sweetwater, TX

      This is truly a fascinating topic. I was going to write a hub on it. I'm glad somebody did, and I'm glad it was you, Patty.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
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      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      Abhinaya - - I have seen senior citizems in their 70s learn piano, so I would let your child do keyboards. Keyborads exercise both sides of the brain very well!

      Music stores that sell musical instruments often have teachers on staff that would let him try several instruements, just to see what he would like best, You would not even have to buy anything, if they are like the instructors in our city's shops.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
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      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      Sharon, if you have links to associated websites, I would be glad for you to post them here!

      Garry - yes, art and music work hand in hand, veru much related.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
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      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      Mr. Marlade - a delightful comment from you! My father played violin, but never after high school. An ancestor played accordion as well. Myself, brass wind instruments (comment open for joking, I'm afraid).

      Peter - thank you for your nice comment!

    • Bonnie Ramsey profile image

      Bonnie Ramsey 9 years ago from United States

      Awsome hub! I gre up in a very musical family (and still, today). When I was in school, I had a problem with memorizing things. My 2 greatest loves have always been writing poetry and music. So I would take what I was trying to learn and make either a song or poem out of it to help me remember it. It also makes learning more fun and interesting. I never did, however, make my Mama understand that I COULD concentrate on my homework with music going lol. Wish I would have had this hub then! Great job!

      Bonnie

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
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      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      Thanks Bonnie!

      Our inner city schools teach math and science to younger elementary school students with poetry and music, and their standardized test scores are rising without dull, opressive memorization! It works! Yippeeeee! I am SO glad you shared your experience here with us.

    • Angela Harris profile image

      Angela Harris 9 years ago from Around the USA

      I've read about listening to Baroque music enhancing learning ability. It's a fascinating subject, as is this Hub.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
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      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      Thank you Angela! I am glad you stopped by. Music is fasincating by itself and so is briain research, but together the combination it is inspiring.

    • Solorya profile image

      Solorya 9 years ago from Oklahoma

      Great hub, I couldn't agree more. Fascinating that even people who are deaf can benefit. I wonder if they've done studies on parents who have played music to their children who were still in the womb--we have a picture of my mom with headphones on her belly!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
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      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      I have not read the latest summary of all studies, but the studies I have read are kind of split - many think it does some good, others do not. It does seem, though that after 23 weeks after conception, generally, the brain is developed enough in the baby to possibly benefit from music in that the brain cells can begin to make the conenctions discussed above. I'll have to read the latest summaries. I don't think music can hurt, though.

    • jboland profile image

      jboland 9 years ago from Chico, CA

      Patti, great hub. You are so right about the power of music develop brain power. I need to listen to a lot more music lol. Have you ever seen the opensource gnaural software? Works in much the same way, I use it a lot while I'm working at the computer you can find it at -- gnaural dot sourceforge dot net -- It's pretty cool. Thanks for the great hub.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
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      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      Thanks for the tip jboland; I'll certainly check it out.

    • midnightbliss profile image

      Haydee Anderson 8 years ago from Hermosa Beach

      love your hub, thanks for sharing those important information.

    • profile image

      sean 8 years ago

      Thank you for your interesting post.i've already bookmarked it .

    • profile image

      The Daily Decibel 7 years ago

      Dear Patty,

      Thank you for your article. While we recognize that music can be wonderfully therapeutic, we are interested in a critical analysis of which music is recommended and why one type rather than another. You cite Baroque, but what about "rock" or "rap". For instance, why Bach -- and not the Beastie Boys. Or, why Vivaldi -- instead of Van Halen. We believe such a distinction is important in studies of the therapeutic benefits of music.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
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      Patty Inglish 7 years ago from North America

      Daily Decibel - Thanks for mentioning this work on your blog. Of the extensive body of materials that you and other are reading and reporting, notice this short 2006 piece from Rutgers University

      http://ur.rutgers.edu/focus/article/Music%20helps%...

      Harvard and the Kennedy Center for the Arts Foundation have collected much more.

      Evidence also exists that rap interferes with human heartbeat, but then, so does syncopated beat, in these studies.

    • profile image

      The Daily Decibel 7 years ago

      Thank you Patty for the Rutgers link - that is useful info. We're really fascinated by this neuromusicology, if that's the proper term. One important facet, we think, of the Rutgers study, is that it contained a control group, enhancing its validity. "The faculty members studied two groups of classes at Essex County College. In the first group, the instructor played baroque-style music in the background during the first month of the semester. The second group, taught by the same instructors, was not exposed to music during class time." Thank you very much! And thank you once again for your posts!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
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      Patty Inglish 7 years ago from North America

      Many additional controlled studies exist inorder to form the body of literature, dating to the mid-1980s that I am aware... Search MEDLINE, ERIC, and neurological databases and journal archives; as well as Harvard and Kennedy Center.

      I am enjoying your blog and also advocate for more quiet and quieter music more often.

      Cheers!

    • Wendy Krick profile image

      Wendy Krick 7 years ago from Maryland

      Lovely Hub. I don't think I could live without music.

    • profile image

      The Daily Decibel 7 years ago

      Patty, is it possible for us to obtain full texts without any budget, with the understanding that we are an entity primarily engaged in research? We approached Taylor & Francis Corporation, for example, but they only offer a 30-day trial. We just don't have the budget to spend on journals.

      Thanks for your nice comments on our blog.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 7 years ago from North America

      Daily Decibel - If you have a nearby University with a music college, that is your best chance for free materials. The research should be archived. Best success to you!

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 7 years ago from Texas

      Thank you for an interesting and well-developed read. I love music and the environment it creates and can change for that matter. I think schools should have music playing softly in the background during the entire classroom experience. It would not be a distraction, quite the contrary, I think, chosen correctly, it could enhance the learning environment as you have pointed out here Thanks for sharing this info! WB

    • stratocarter profile image

      stratocarter 6 years ago

      music=mathematics !!!

      Great!

    • SweetMarie83 profile image

      Marie Landry 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Excellent hub! I did a lot of research when I was in college about the affect of music on baby's brains and found it fascinating. Then I discovered the affects of music and language first-hand through my nephews: my first nephew was born when his parents were young and not exactly the most responsible people. He had speech and learning delays that were overcome once he joined a child care program and interacted with other children and adults. Then when my baby nephew was born, his parents, being older and more responsible, talked to him, played with him, and at the age of 10 months, he's an absolute genius.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 6 years ago from North America

      The interaction greatly affects language input and output processing, more so than music. Quite a difference you saw!

    • profile image

      Triena 6 years ago

      Interesting and informative article.

    • vinylvenue profile image

      vinylvenue 6 years ago from Hampshire, UK

      I think it's such a shame that Art/Music is always the first thing to be cut from school budgets. They should read your article!!

    • acuad12 profile image

      acuad12 6 years ago

      This song is great! I hope you guys enjoy!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDOLqPOkvSo

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 6 years ago from North America

      Thanks for that link!

    • jtyler profile image

      jtyler 6 years ago

      This is an interesting article. I didn't read all of it yet; I'll finish it later. I think listening to more complex music such as jazz and classical would help even more.

    • Champ40 profile image

      Champ40 5 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      These days unfortunately young people are distorting the effects of music with drugs, it's rather sad.

      I started playing the organ at the age of 7, my mum always says it was the ONLY thing I didn't break! After that I moved on to the piano.

      Being able to play a musical instrument is something I highly recommend.

      I wish schools in my local area would see the connection between music and learning, my kids regularly come home from school saying this and that was boring.

    • profile image

      Brain music therapy 5 years ago

      Institute for Advanced Psychiatry is a leading depression center in central Texasproviding NeuroStar Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation TMS Therapy

    • profile image

      KC Pickens 5 years ago

      Fantastic article. It has always seemed like common sense that a well-balanced education proves to be a better education. I am glad to see the science behind it. If only our political representatives and policy makers were well-informed and truly had the interests of our nation's children at heart.

    • chef-de-jour profile image

      Andrew Spacey 5 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      We all need more music and poetry in our lives and the younger the better if it's given with honesty and heart. The science behind it all has a place in our understanding of how these things work and you've done a great job explaining that.

      Thanks for the positive stance.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
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      Patty Inglish 5 years ago from North America

      Thanks for your views on poetry and music. I agree!

    • smartmusic profile image

      smartmusic 5 years ago

      Music can be therapeutic to the mind and body and improves quality of life to those who have it in their life. Great lens, thank you.

    • JayMores profile image

      JayMores 4 months ago

      Music - It Can Save the Brain and Make It Grow...

      I like that!

      Patty Thank you for this wonderful hub and it's many resources...

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