If there were something out there that was easy, and free, and readily available, and scientifically proven to improve brain health and reverse cognitive decline, I think you’d want to know about it.
Now granted, there’s not a lot of things out there like that.
But there are a few. And in my opinion, one of the best of them is continually overlooked and under appreciated. What am I talking about?
Pretty much everybody listens to music. Pretty much everybody enjoys music. But few people appreciate the role it can play in improving brain health. So that’s my topic today.
You cannot turn around these days without bumping into an article about music and dementia. The role of music is one of the biggest trends in dementia care right now. Everyone seems to be talking about it.
But what about mild cognitive impairment? People with MCI don’t have dementia, and we know that most of them will not go on to develop dementia. But I don’t hear anybody talking about the way music can benefit people with MCI, when in reality, it can actually help them a lot.
And I have to admit, as someone who focuses on MCI, I’m as guilty of that as anybody. Here’s a recent example.
Last fall, a study came out with some very encouraging findings for anyone with MCI.
It involved 60 people with what’s called subjective memory decline.
Before this study began, these people had their memory tested and they scored in the range of mild cognitive impairment.
And then in the study, for six months, they either engaged in a form of meditation or they listened to relaxing music.
After six months of meditation or listening to music, they were tested again, and on average, they tested cognitively normal. That’s how much their memory had improved.
In addition, at the beginning of the study, 25 of the participants were judged to be at elevated risk for dementia. By the end of the study, only seven of them were still considered at high risk.
That was such an important result, I did a video on it at the time. And you know what I focused almost entirely on in that video. Meditation.
Now, nothing against meditation. In fact, I practice meditation. I find it very beneficial, even life-changing.
But a lot of people don’t like meditation. They’ve tried it and they haven’t been able to stick with it. The same with yoga.
Yoga provides many of the same benefits, but a lot of people don’t like yoga, including me. My wife keeps trying to drag me to yoga classes and I just hate yoga. I will not do it. It’s not for me.
On the other hand, I’m trying to remember the last time I heard someone say, “Oh, I tried listening to music, but I can’t listen to music. I hate music.”
Now people may hate a certain type of music, the way I hate rap music. But almost all of us have some kind of music that we enjoy listening to.
So why doesn’t listening to music get its due, when it comes protecting cognition and reducing the risk of cognitive decline?
I mean here we have this study, and all these people did was sit down for 12 minutes a day and listen to relaxing music with their eyes closed, and their cognition improved, just like the people who meditated.
In the study, people listened to certain classical selections and classical music composers. But it wasn’t a set list. They just randomly chose different tracts to listen to.
I think it’s safe to assume that any type of calm, relaxing music that you like to listen to can have that same potential benefit.
You’re welcome to try it. I hope you find it helpful. I hope to see you again next week as well. Until then, as always, be kind to your mind.