|Photo: Tom Barnes|
Studies revealed that music can shape our personalities and behaviors. It can help us choose our sexual partners. And it can be used to cure certain ailments. The deeper researchers dig, the more we realize how powerful of a force it truly is.
And these findings could not have come at a more perfect moment in time: School systems continue to slash arts and music budgets around the country and the war over how much we pay for music is fundamentally a question of how much we value music. In this crucial year, scientists delivered infallible reminders of what any music lover already knew: Music is more than just entertainment.
Here are 12 amazing things we discovered about music this year:
1. Learning an instrument at a young age can provide improved executive function.
Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital found that early musical training helps children improve their executive functions. Executive functions are incredibly important; they enable people to retain information, regulate behavior and solve problems more effectively.
Children that started playing music at age 6 showed enhanced activation in the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that owns executive functions. And they performed far better than control groups on tests requiring them to shift between mental demands. Executive functioning is also a "strong predictor of academic achievement, even more than IQ," said study senior investigator Nadine Gaab. "Our findings suggest that musical training may actually help to set up children for a better academic future."