Did you know that musicians have a bigger corpus callosum than non-musicians?
The corpus callosum is the part of our brains that connects the right hemisphere to the left. It allows both sides to communicate with each other, and is responsible for eye movement and helping us maintain our balance. It also holds the largest amount of white matter in the brain, which influences how our brains learn and function. Researchers tell us that white matter (wherever it is housed, in the brain or spinal column) is responsible for communication between nerve cells; thus, the corpus callosum is the communicator for the brain.
Current research from Anita Collins suggests that when our students play their instruments, they are working on their fine motor skills. Both parts of our brain are responsible for these fine motor skills. Additionally, as the right side of the brain is responsible for the creative process, while the left side is responsible for our linguistic prowess, musicians use both of these hemispheres simultaneously when they create. Consequently, musicians adapt to these challenges by creating a larger corpus callosum, much the way an athlete would grow his or her muscles.
We are excited to see research that continues to make the music-brain connection. Music is an enjoyable activity that also has long-term cognitive benefits!