Listening to classical music causes a surge in blood flow to the brain. That’s what neuroscientists discovered when they ran positron emission tomography (PET) scans on test subjects as they listened to Bach. The increased blood flow was especially marked in the cerebellum, which controls balance and coordination. Music also improves function in other parts of the brain. A study of female college students found that those who studied music as children had a significantly better memory for recalling word lists than those with no music training.

But does music produce a measurable anatomical difference in the brain?

Doctors at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston say so. They studied cerebellar volume in ninety musicians and nonmusicians. The cerebella of musicians was five percent larger than those of nonmusicians — leading one to conclude that music stimulated extra nerve growth.

Guess what? Mom was right about practicing that piano.

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