Music thought to enhance intelligence, mental health and immune system

June 22, 2006

A recent volume of the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences takes a closer look at how music evolved and how we respond to it. Contributors to the volume believe that animals such as birds, dolphins and whales make sounds analogous to music out of a desire to imitate each other. This ability to learn and imitate sounds is a trait necessary to acquire language and scientists feel that many of the sounds animals make may be precursors to human music.

Another study in the volume looks at whether music training can make individuals smarter. Scientists found more grey matter in the auditory cortex of the right hemisphere in musicians compared to nonmusicians. They feel these differences are probably not genetic, but instead due to use and practice.

Listening to classical music, particularly Mozart, has recently been thought to enhance performance on cognitive tests. Contributors to this volume take a closer look at this assertion and their findings indicate that listening to any music that is personally enjoyable has positive effects on cognition. In addition, the use of music to enhance memory is explored and research suggests that musical recitation enhances the coding of information by activating neural networks in a more united and thus more optimal fashion.

Other studies in this volume look at music's positive effects on health and immunity, how music is processed in the brain, the interplay between language and music, and the relationship between our emotions and music.
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The Neurosciences and Music II is volume 1060 of the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences .

Media wishing to receive access to this volume may contact journalnews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net

Linda Mehta is available for media questions and interviews. She can be contacted by email at Lindam@nyas.org

Since 1817, the New York Academy of Sciences has been bringing together scientists of different disciplines from around the world. Their purpose is to advance the understanding of science, technology, and medicine, and to stimulate new ways to think about how their research is applied in society and the world. For information on becoming a member of the Academy, visit: www.nyas.org/membership

Blackwell Publishing is the world's leading society publisher, partnering with 665 academic and professional societies. Blackwell publishes over 800 journals and, to date, has published more than 6,000 books, across a wide range of academic, medical, and professional subjects.

Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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