Does Music Help In Increasing Your IQ?

by | June 18, 2021, 17:42 IST

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In ancient India, the art of music enjoyed a very important status in society. Music was used as a means of religious and spiritual expression and thus gained immense patronage even by the royals. Over time, this status of music diminished and now music is only associated with entertainment. With people being more focused on science and mathematics, the arts have taken a back seat. However, could it be that it is these arts and music specifically, that aid in better performance in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields?

The earliest studies on the relation between music and the human brain can be dated as far back as the early 20th century. Since then, as technology and the understanding of psychology evolved, so did our understanding of the effect music has on our brains. Several studies published from then on say that professional musical training or even music appreciation has increased the emotional and intelligence quotients among those who practice it.

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How Does Music Impact Our IQ?
“Studies show that music is instrumental in improving our blood flow by lowering the levels of stress-related hormones like cortisol that ease pain and filter our emotions,” said Tanuja Gomes, co-founder and co-CEO at Furtados School of Music. This effect could be the reason why listening to music increases our concentration levels which then makes it easier to process and remember information. Studies have also proved that this effect only lasts for 15 minutes and has no lasting impact on a person's general intelligence. Therefore, just listening to music is not enough to impact our IQ.

Other studies that examined the brain structure of students who pursued music professionally and played musical instruments found that such people had more grey matter volume compared to their non-musical counterparts or even those who pursued different art forms. Grey matter in the brain is the part that contains neuronal cell bodies. It is associated with information processing, memory, emotions, and decision-making, among others, so more volume of grey matter is beneficial.

“Every human being is born with an equal number of brain cells, but then why is there so much difference in IQ? It is because of the interconnection between the brain cells, which plays an important role in developing IQ. Musical training creates an impact on the interconnection between the brain cells and when interconnection becomes stronger during the brain development age of a child, new connections between brain cells can also be formed. So, that’s how music creates a positive impact on the IQ of a person,” explains music therapist Santosh Ghatpande, co-founder of Music Café, Pune.

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Music To Help Overcome Challenges

One of the biggest challenges we face on a personal/emotional level is stress and anxiety. It can lead to problems in processing and analysing information, apart from its obvious problems. If you let the mind de-stress and relax, it enhances its capabilities. “By activating neurochemical systems which are associated with our mood, emotion regulation, and mental well-being, music stimulates both the hemispheres of our brain which promotes beneficial changes in our nervous system,” Gomes adds, “It evokes a meditative state in our mind, which fends off depression.”

Another challenge people face is disabilities and them hampering their daily lives. “I have worked with three children with learning disabilities. Through music, within six years, despite their learning disabilities, they were recognised in their school for their music which improved their self-confidence,” notes music therapist Dr Meenakshi Ravi, founder-director of Meera Center for Music Therapy Education and Research, Bengaluru, “Soon enough, they also reached the same level of learning capacity as their peers and became excellent in their academic performance.”

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Music For Academics
Children who began musical training early in their life have also been able to perform better academically than other children. They have better mathematical and verbal skills. It has helped previously academically weak students in gaining newfound confidence which also reflected in their academics with better grades, while those who began training later in their life did not show drastic changes when compared to the former. “Whether it is concentration, leadership, attention, mathematical and analytical ability, emotional and logical intelligence, everything can be improved through music,” Dr Ravi points out.

“Scientifically, musical memory is stronger than any other memory. If music is associated with something, one can remember it for a long period. This can be applied in academics as well in terms of remembering different formulas. I’ve conducted many experiments with kids on understanding their exposure to music as a tool for academic enhancement. The experiments have given great results wherein children were able to grasp concepts within days which would earlier take months with typical teaching methods,” Ghatpande added.

While some experts and studies negate the increase in IQ with music, some support it. Nonetheless, music does seem to have if not major, some minor changes in the functionality of our brains. Even if it doesn’t make us the next Einstein or Newton, it definitely will make us a lot happier. So why not give it a try, even if done so only in the pursuit of happiness?

Also Read: Expert Speak: Developing Cognitive And Language Skills In The Early Years
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