Scientists: music lessons change the structure of the brain

People can change the structure of their brain and their behavior, and achieve unique interpersonal experience, by playing or listening to jazz, said Bradley Vines, an expert on neuromarketing, speaking at Tomsk State University with a report at the opening of the First International Student Jazz Symposium.

In his report devoted to jazz as a technology of spontaneous expression, Bradley Vines, director of the European branch of Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience, presented recent research by neuroscientists and psychologists studying the effect of music on the human brain. The specialist considered jazz as an instrument of influence on thinking and analyzed the art of improvisation in three aspects: the formation of brain activity, the formation of human behavior, and jazz as an interpersonal experience.

The influence of jazz on the brain is connected with neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to change with time, and with mirror neurons that are excited not only by performing a certain action, but also by monitoring the  actions of another person. The brain is able to combine music with movements and emotions.

- It is a specific connection in the brain of musicians. For example, when pianists hear a familiar creation, the activity of their fingers increases. When we are learning to play a musical instrument, we master the subtle bond between sound and movement. Changes in the structure occur in addition to changes in the activity of the brain, - said Bradley Vines.

The cerebral cortex, which is responsible for the processing of sounds, as well as the area that regulates the connection of mind and feelings of people involved in music, increases. Music unites all human senses: auditory, visual, and tactile.

- Thus, the practical music lessons are forming your brain, - said Bradley Vines. - And the study of music, in fact, summarizes all our abilities and develops them.

Music activates the circulation between two main centres of the brain and can cause dependence of musicians and listeners. Another change in the brain that occurs when a person hears or plays jazz is joint work of systems responsible for imagination and concentration.

In the natural state of a person, these systems are consistent with each other: when one is active, the second is relaxed. But when exposed to music, the systems can operate together. According to the scientist, this property can be used in the treatment of depression or mental disorders.

- From my point of view, jazz may be the ideal technology for the activation of these two parts - said Bradley Vines. - Because jazz requires coordination of our internal ideas and awareness of external reality, which creates music. In its ideal form, jazz creates a coordination of these systems.

Bradley Vines’s report was at the opening of the First International Student Jazz Symposium. The event will last three days, during which time everyone will be able to visit the round tables and master classes with world jazz stars: Steve Turre, Rosario Giuliani, Tommy Campbell, Melton Mustafa. The symposium will end with a gala concert in which the outstanding jazz musicians will perform together for the first tme . You can see the programme here.