A recent study has found that both people with musical training show better executive functioning in the brain as compared to non-musicians. Based on this finding, the scientists involved in the study have suggested that musical training for ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder) may be an effective, non-invasive therapy for the disorder.
“Executive functioning” is generally defined as the brain’s ability to problem solve, make decisions, regulate behavior, make plans, and adjust mentally to rapidly changing situations. Executive function brain operations mainly activate the prefrontal cortex, or front part of the brain. People who suffer from ADHD may experience cognitive and behavorial problems that arise from poor executive functioning.
In this study, the researchers, from Boston Children’s Hospital, studied the brains of children ages 9-12 and examined the results of cognitive tests and fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) brain scans. They found that the children who had 2 or more years of musical training showed greater brain activation in prefrontal areas associated with executive functioning and performed better on the cognitive behavioral measures.
Want to improve your executive functioning?
Maybe 2 years of music training doesn’t appeal to you, or you want to get started right away. I have some good news: BrainHQ exercises have also been shown to improve executive function. Dr. Merzenich says, “just about every BrainHQ exercise contributes to strengthening and improving executive function. The more fundamental listening and visual programs* advance implicit abilities that crucially support higher level abilities–that is to say, executive function. Then, higher level training^ more directly engages executive functioning. Studies conducted using both relatively elemental training and the higher level training tasks BOTH document gains in executive function.”
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*“fundamental listening and visual programs”: mostly the exercises in the Attention, Brain Speed, and Memory categories.
^“higher level training”: such as Double Decision, plus all of the People Skills, Intelligence, and Navigation exercises.