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Engaging in music linked to better brain health in older age: Study

IANS Jan 30, 2024

Researchers have discovered that engaging in music throughout your life is linked with better brain health in older adults, a new study has said.

In the study published in the journal International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, the researchers examined data from over a thousand adults above 40 to see the effect of playing a musical instrument -- or singing in a choir -- on brain health.

More than 25,000 people have signed up for the study called 'PROTECT', which has been running for 10 years.

The findings revealed that playing a musical instrument, such as the piano, can improve memory and executive function -- a skill that helps you solve complex problems.

Continuing to play into later life provides even greater benefits. The study also suggested that singing was also connected to better brain health, although this may also be due to the social factors of being part of a choir or group.

"Our PROTECT study has given us a unique opportunity to explore the relationship between cognitive performance and music in a large cohort of older adults. Overall, we think that being musical could be a way of harnessing the brain’s agility and resilience, known as cognitive reserve," said Anne Corbett, Professor of Dementia Research at the UK-based University of Exeter.

"Although more research is needed to investigate this relationship, our findings indicate that promoting musical education would be a valuable part of public health initiatives to promote a protective lifestyle for brain health, as would encouraging older adults to return to music in later life," she added.

In addition, Corbett noted that music group activities are proven to be beneficial for individuals with dementia, and this approach can be incorporated into a healthy ageing package for older adults to help them proactively reduce their risk and promote their brain health.

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