APR 09, 2020 10:28 AM PDT

How Playing the Drums Changes Your Brain

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Playing music is associated with a range of neurological benefits from maintaining and improving cognitive abilities to promoting neuroplasticity, and preventing neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia. Now, researchers from Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany have uncovered the neurological benefits of playing the drums. 

Although the neurological effects of playing musical instruments in general have long been known, no one had previously studied the neurological benefits for drummers specifically. Lara Schlaffke, lead author of the study, says, “Most people can only perform fine motor tasks with one hand and have problems playing different rhythms with both hands at the same time...Drummers can do things that are impossible for untrained people.”

In particular, Schlaffke and her team wanted to understand how playing the drums affected the organization of complex motor processes in the brain. To do so, they recruited 20 professional drummers with an average of 17 years experience playing the instrument, who also practiced playing for more than 10 hours per week. Meanwhile, for the control group the researchers recruited 24 people without any prior musical aptitude. Asking each participant to play the drums, the researchers then used MRI imaging techniques to visualize both how their brains functioned, and their structures.

Among their findings, they found that the experienced drummers had fewer but thicker fibres in the front part of their corpus callosum, part of the brain that connects the right and left brain hemispheres, and is key for motor planning. The researchers thus concluded that these thicker fibres allowed the drummers to communicate information between hemispheres at a faster rate than the controls. The researchers also found that the thicker the fibres in the corpus callosum; the better the drumming performance across all of the participants.

More than this, they also found that the brains of the drummers showed less activity in areas dedicated to motor tasks than those of the control subjects during their performances. Known as ‘sparse sampling’, the researchers concluded that more efficient brain organization in the experienced drummers meant that these areas of the brain were activated less. 


Sources: Science Daily, Scientific American and Wiley Online Library 

About the Author
  • Science writer with keen interests in technology and behavioral biology. Her current focus is on the interplay between these fields to create meaningful interactions, applications and environments.
You May Also Like
OCT 03, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Test Diagnoses Dementia While You Sleep by Estimating Your Brain Age
OCT 03, 2020
Test Diagnoses Dementia While You Sleep by Estimating Your Brain Age
Researchers at Harvard have discovered a novel diagnostic marker of dementia for identifying undiagnosed patients or tho ...
OCT 22, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Cannabis Reduces OCD Symptoms by 50%
OCT 22, 2020
Cannabis Reduces OCD Symptoms by 50%
Researchers from Washington State University have found that smoking cannabis can lead to a short term reduction in up t ...
OCT 27, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
A Super Sensitive Alzheimer's Test Powered by Nanozymes
OCT 27, 2020
A Super Sensitive Alzheimer's Test Powered by Nanozymes
  Simple tasks are now uphill struggles, social situations aren’t fun, and the car keys are missing again. By ...
NOV 01, 2020
Microbiology
SARS-CoV-2 Disrupts the Blood Brain Barrier
NOV 01, 2020
SARS-CoV-2 Disrupts the Blood Brain Barrier
SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19 has to get into cells to cause infection. It does so with a spike protein on its surfa ...
NOV 29, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
Gene Therapy for Eye Disorder May Have Other Applications
NOV 29, 2020
Gene Therapy for Eye Disorder May Have Other Applications
In recent years, scientists have been able to develop gene therapies to treat some eye diseases. The eyes are uniquely q ...
JAN 05, 2021
Neuroscience
Synthetic Psychedelic Treats Depression Without Hallucinations
JAN 05, 2021
Synthetic Psychedelic Treats Depression Without Hallucinations
Psychedelics are receiving an increasing amount of attention- both in research and in the media- for their potential to ...
Loading Comments...