A new survey shows that musicians have better mental processing speed, more effective memory recall, and higher levels of self-control than nonmusicians.
A team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University found that pianist pianists performed at a higher level of cognitive performance than nonpianist pianist musicians, which was associated with greater ability to perform well on a variety of cognitive tests.
The team, led by Professor Scott S. Kravitz, studied pianists in both classical and jazz pianos from the early 1980s.
Kravitz explained that the more complex and demanding a musical composition, the more people are likely to perform it.
He added that a study in 2005 found that musicians with a higher skill level were significantly more likely to score high on cognitive tests, such as those of spatial ability and reasoning.
“We thought it would be interesting to examine whether the difference in cognitive ability was actually greater for pianists,” he said.
The researchers used the same method as the 2005 study and found that among non-musicians, pianists had significantly better performance in a number of cognitive tasks than nonmembers.
They found that compared to nonmembers, pianist members had better spatial and reasoning skills, more consistent recall, a higher degree of self control, and greater levels of motivation.
They also found that a higher score on cognitive tasks was associated to higher levels on measures of self esteem, mood, and social support.
The research was published in the journal Intelligence.
The team also found evidence that the differences between the performance of pianists and nonmembers could be linked to performance in certain areas of the brain.
The group found that in areas of cortical processing called the medial prefrontal cortex, for example, pianism participants had higher levels in certain cognitive processes than nonmember pianists.
The authors of the study suggested that the high levels of cognition among pianists could be connected to differences in the amount of brain volume in certain regions of the cortex, such that areas that are more active in these areas are more likely than others to be involved in cognitive processing.
The findings are consistent with the work of Dr. Daniel Riedl, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania who studies the brain’s connection to memory.
He has found that higher levels and higher cognitive function are associated with higher levels for memory.
“When you look at people with higher cognitive functioning, it means they’re able to retain information and do more in terms of remembering it,” Riedel said.
In a study published in 2015, Riedll found that people who score highly on a cognitive test called the Stroop task were also more likely forgo information during a flashback.
He said that this could be because they are less capable of working out the details of what happened in their past.
“You have people who are very good at remembering what happened and they’re not as good at recalling it,” he told ABC News.
“If they have a lot of information, it’s easy for them to remember, but they forget about it, and then when they come back, they have an easier time forgetting it.
So they’re really good at forgetting, but it’s not really their job.”