ARTS & CULTURE
08/05/2014 04:02 pm ET | Updated Aug 05, 2014

How Playing An Instrument Might Actually Make You Smarter

It lights up your brain like fireworks on the Fourth of July, spurring on complicated processes and making connections like crazy. Your synapses fire. Your neurons are in hyperdrive.

This is your brain on music.

We're still learning more about how our brains work, but thanks to neuroimaging technology we do know that playing music requires some pretty unique mental acrobatics.

Many things we do are associated with activity in singular part of the brain. Playing an instrument, in contrast, engages almost every part of the brain simultaneously, according to a recent Ted-Ed lesson from educator Anita Collins. The parts each process different information, relating and interrelating it with incredible speed.

And all that violin and oboe practice adds up, meaning that as you get better at playing tricky concertos, your brain gets better at processing all the information that made it possible. That newfound strength can then be applied to other, non-musical activities.

We're not saying that you should give up your SAT flashcards for a quick tutorial on maracas, but if that's just one way that playing music benefits your brain, it sounds like musicians might be on the right track. Watch the lesson above for more.

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