Do Musicians Have Better Brains?
A new study (abstract here; summary here) argues that musicians have more highly developed brains than the rest of us. The research relates the concept of high mind development to the potential to become really good at something:
New research shows that musicians’ brains are highly developed in a way that makes the musicians alert, interested in learning, disposed to see the whole picture, calm, and playful. The same traits have previously been found among world-class athletes, top-level managers, and individuals who practice transcendental meditation.
Using EEG‘s to measure brain activity, researchers concluded the following about the brains of musicians:
They have well-coordinated frontal lobes. Our frontal lobes are what we use for higher brain functions, such as planning and logical thinking. Another characteristic is that activity at a certain frequency, so-called alpha waves, dominates. Alpha waves occur when the brain puts together details into wholes. Yet another EEG measure shows that individuals with high mind brain development use their brain resources economically. They are alert and ready for action when it is functional to be so, but they are relaxed and adopt a wait-and-see attitude when that is functional.
Musicians also exhibited higher levels of moral reasoning and had more frequent “peak experiences”– intense moments of happiness and feelings of transcending limitations.