How musical training affects our brains

A study into brain patterns suggests musical training can alter the way we think.

Some 14 musicians were assessed to see which part of the brain they used to carry out music and language skills and researchers found they employed the left side for both tasks. A further eight people - who were not musical - were asked to perform the same task, but no correlation was found in brain activity when these participants performed the tests.   
 
However, when non-musician volunteers were subsequently exposed to just a short period of musical training, there was an increase in blood flow to the left side of the brain when faced with musical and word generation tasks. In effect, their brains began to work in the same way as a musician's would.
 
The research was carried out by Dr G Meyer and Amy Spray from the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Liverpool as part of a School of Psychology Summer Internship Scheme.
 
During the study, it took just half an hour of musical training to affect a change in the way non-musicians processed music and language. Ms Spray said that "it was fascinating to see that the similarities in blood flow signatures" could happen after such short exposure to musical tuition.
 
The results of the study will be presented at the British Psychological Society's annual conference today (May 8th). 

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