Michael Jackson was on to something when he sang that "A-B-C" is "simple as "Do Re Mi." Music helps kids remember basic facts such as the order of letters in the alphabet, partly because songs tap into fundamental systems in our brains that are sensitive to melody and beat.
That's not all: when you play music, you are exercising your brain in a unique way.
"I think there's enough evidence to say that musical experience, musical exposure, musical training, all of those things change your brain," says Dr. Charles Limb, associate professor of otolaryngology and head and neck surgery at Johns Hopkins University. "It allows you to think in a way that you used to not think, and it also trains a lot of other cognitive facilities that have nothing to do with music."
The connection between music and the brain is the subject of a symposium at the Association for Psychological Science conference in Chicago this weekend, featuring prominent scientists and Grammy-winning bassist Victor Wooten. They will discuss the remarkable ways our brains enable us to appreciate, remember and play music, and how we can harness those abilities in new ways.
There are more facets to the mind-music connection than there are notes in a major scale, but it's fascinating to zoom in on a few to see the extraordinary affects music can have on your brain.