Playing a musical instrument or joining a choir has been found to be linked to improved memory and thinking skills in older adults, according to research conducted at Exeter University. The study, which analyzed data from over a thousand adults, discovered that playing the piano was particularly associated with better brain health in those aged 40 or above.
The scientists examined brain health, specifically executive function, in relation to musical participation and found that those who played an instrument scored higher in cognitive tests. Singing was also shown to be linked to better brain health, but the researchers acknowledged that being part of a group may contribute to the positive effects.
Professor Anne Corbett, a dementia researcher at the University of Exeter, proposes that musical ability could tap into the brain’s agility and resilience, commonly referred to as cognitive reserve. Therefore, promoting musical education as part of public health initiatives could prove valuable for brain health, and older adults should be encouraged to engage in music later in life.
These findings support previous research demonstrating the benefits of music for individuals with dementia. Music serves as a valuable form of communication for people living with the condition, even in its later stages. Playing instruments or singing can be particularly beneficial for individuals with dementia, and it is advisable to keep instruments or sheet music easily accessible for those who enjoy or have previously enjoyed music.
Overall, the study’s results highlight the potential advantages of incorporating music into public health strategies and encouraging older adults to embrace music to enhance brain health. It also emphasizes the significance of music in enhancing communication and cognitive function for individuals living with dementia.