A newly released study is offering some pretty serious accolades for show tunes. No longer purely functional on the stage or the occasional episode of Glee, show tunes might just be a key towards warding off dementia.
The details are this: some U.S. scientists did a four month long study on some elderly residents at a home on the East Coast. They played some show tunes for 50 minutes three times a week. The elderly who were chosen to sing along to the songs for the duration of the experiment showed an improvement in their dementia or Alzheimer’s symptoms, while those who merely listened did not. Song choices included jams from The Sound of Music and The Wizard of Oz, among others.
This is enlightening news, sort of. Before you drown out your neighbors with some theatrical classics on repeat, know that those songs in particular might have made an impact on the elderly because they evoked memories and feelings of their youth and got them involved in an engaging activity. Is this new news that music is good for the brain? No it’s not.
Past studies have shown that listening to music can reduce anxiety more than drugs built for the same purpose, and it can increase your natural antibodies and ability to fight infection. Musicians have actual functional brain differences than non-musicians, as in something physically changes in there from making music. A moderate noise level of considerate music can amp up your creativity while you are working. Kids who play instruments for a few years in their youth score better on vocabulary and nonverbal reasoning skills than kids that do not. When you get chills from an emotional or simply amazing song, dopamine is released, giving us that good feeling we chase ever so endlessly. So if music involvement can make you smarter, healthier, and happier, it makes sense that a regular sing along might help you out as well.
So perhaps it’s not necessarily show tunes per se that are healing the mind. Maybe we can build some new neural pathways in thanks to the Beatles, N’Sync, or Miley Cyrus. That’s personal. The take away from this recent study is a good reminder that we can all benefit from music pretty much all the time…and why the heck do we ever forget it?