A useful article from UK’s The Guardian newspaper, collecting together many sources of evidence about the beneficial effects of music in developing brain function.
“Music reaches parts of the brain that other things can’t,” says neuropsychologist Catherine Loveday of the University of Westminster. “It’s a strong cognitive stimulus that grows the brain in a way that nothing else does, and the evidence that musical training enhances things like working memory and language is very robust.”
Studies show that learning to play a musical instrument not only increases grey matter volume in various brain regions, but can also strengthen the long-range connections between them. Other research mentioned in the article shows that musical training also enhances verbal memory, spatial reasoning, and literacy skills, such that professional musicians usually outperform non-musicians on these abilities.
The article concludes that playing a musical instrument is a rich and complex experience that involves integrating information from the senses of vision, hearing, and touch, as well as fine movements, and learning to do so can induce long-lasting changes in the brain.