A new study says musicians’ brains are better-wired to pay attention than the brains of non-musicians.

People who are musically trained exhibit better focus and control over their attention than people who are not musically trained, a new study reports.

According to the study, trained musicians have greater executive control of attention (a major part of the brain’s system of attention) than non-musicians do. The longer a person trains as a musician, the more this effect increases.

“Professional musicians are able to more quickly and accurately respond to and focus on what is important to perform a task… (this) is enhanced with increased years of training”

-Lead Investigator Paulo Barraza, PhD, Center for Advanced Research in Education, University of Chile

How Did They Figure This Out?

To create this study, a research team led by the University of Chile’s Dr. Paulo Barraza matched 18 professional and student pianists with 18 professional adults who could not read or play music. Then, they guided the subjects through visual tests designed to show attentional control. In every area measured, the musicians significantly outperformed the non-musicians, including an over 60% difference in one area.

What does this mean? For one, learning music has a deeper and longer-lasting effect on attention than anyone realized before, which helps demonstrate the necessity of music education for children. Perhaps David Medina, co-author, said it best:

“Our findings… could be useful in clinical or educational fields, for instance, in strengthening the ability of ADHD individuals to manage distractions or the development of school programs encouraging the development of cognitive abilities through the practice of music”

If you needed another reason to finally sign up your student for lesssons, you’ve just read it.

This study was published in scientific journal Heliyon and titled “Efficiency of attentional networks in musicians and non-musicians”.

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