Music can boost cognitive abilities in unprecedented ways. The creative centers of our brain, which are the areas like the frontal lobe and hippocampus, hold the wiring and connections that help in the out of box thinking. Although the matter of creativity is subjective and sometimes philosophical, there is also a complex involvement of cognitive neuroscience.
Researchers have found that musical exposure in early childhood and even during pregnancy enhances cognition powers, such as learning languages, communication, and reading skills. In fact, the ability to play an instrument has reportedly been associated with better mathematical skills and higher SAT scores among groups of students.
Moreover, in children, music has been found to increase motor abilities and intellectual thinking from an early age. The pattern of words, tones, and melodies, along with their recognition, also aids in better memory and higher levels of emotional intelligence.
Creating any form of art is known to stimulate communication between different parts of the brain. The more the number of connections among the different regions of the brain, the more is the plasticity, which in turn directly affects intelligence.
Through the creative process of music-making, listening, or singing this plasticity increases, thereby enhancing a child’s general intelligence and problem-solving abilities. Several studies have shown that early exposure to music is related to higher white matter in the brain. White matter not only connects the neurons, but it is essential for efficient information procession. This helps children analyze, understand and process thoughts in a better way.
In 2001, Palmer explained that ” all music is made up of the fundamental building blocks of melody, rhythm, and harmony. These building blocks are processed by different areas of the brain, which in turn is shaped by varied experiences, including music and motion in early childhood education. Music can enhance the ability to think and reason.”
The understanding of the notes, rhythms, reading a piece of music involves a lot of concentration. This increases a child’s ability to focus and enhance their attention span. Moreover, the use of hand-eye-logic coordination increases their motor skills and spatial intelligence.
Music also increases dopamine and serotonin levels, which boosts motivation and overall good feeling. When children are involved in group musical activities, it increases their social bonding skills as well as improves their team spirit. It has also been seen that kids who have Autism or ADHD respond well to music therapy due to its soothing effect.
According to the neuropsychological theory, “creative problem solving is improved, in part, because increased dopamine releases in the anterior cingulate, which improves cognitive flexibility and facilitates cognitive perception.”
In recent years, a new branch of neuroscience has emerged dedicated to the cognitive relations between the brain and music, which further underlines the importance of what I mentioned before. This branch is called Neuromusicology. It involves the real-time measurement of brain processes while perceiving music or sound. The topics encompass acoustic feature processing and listening to melodies to composition and music performance. Research in this field has shown how tunes affect the wiring of the brain, especially in children with regards to the cognitive, motor, analytical, thinking, reasoning, and logical abilities. Together, all of this contributes to holistic development and boosts creative thinking abilities.