Can music actually make you smarter? What the science says…
Whilst it’s no secret that music has the power to stir up emotions, did you know the playing music can actually make you more intelligent? In fact, some studies go as far to claim that simply listening to music can make you smarter.
Is this true? How exactly can reading, writing, playing, or even listening to music improve brain functions? Let’s take a look at the various studies responsible for these claims.
How Music Affects the Brain & Memory…
Data from the Wake Forrest images showed that for musicians, and non-musicians alike, listening to music activated the right side of the brain, the side responsible for creativity and emotions.
The research found that stimulating this side of the brain elicited a positive response from dementia patients. Researchers theorized this was because an emotional connection to beloved songs of the past brought out enjoyable moments of recognition.
As a musician myself, I can personally attest to the claim that music is stored in the brain’s long-term memory banks. There are songs I learned over twenty years ago that I still remember when picking up a guitar today, even following a 10-year hiatus.
Memory is something that gets better with exercise. The brain is a complex muscle, but a muscle nonetheless. Just like the body requires regular maintenance to stay in shape, our memory and critical thinking skills also need a good mental workout to operate at optimal capacity.
So, whilst science may claim that listening to music does not directly boost intelligence, research at Johns Hopkins University has show that it can help reduce stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, sharpen mental alertness and improve sleep as well as overall mental wellbeing. 
Since these are all factors that can all help make learning easier, we think it’s safe to say that listening to music does have positive effects when it comes to intelligence, albeit in a roundabout way.
Can Performing Music Make You More Intelligent?
The Wake Forrest findings are not the only to suggest playing music can improve cognitive and mental functions. Research conducted by by Crystal Gibson, Bradley Folley and Sohee Park and partially supported by the Vanderbilt University Discovery Grant, showed that playing music can increase mental and cognitive functions in a number of ways. 
It was also shown that musicians had, on average, a higher IQ score than non-musicians, and used less brain function to solve puzzles with the same level of complexity as those who didn’t play an instrument.
In addition, a study at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, also found that musicians, as well as bilingual people, utilized fewer brain resources when performing memory tests. 
If listening to music has indirect perks that can assist with mental development and playing music has can directly improve intelligence, how exactly does it benefit us?
What Happens to Brain When Performing Music
Fortunately, you don’t need to be a musician to enjoy the benefits of music, but for those who do play, read and write, you all stand to benefit greatly when it comes to learning.