Musicians use both sides of their brains more than other people


New research suggests that musicians do (to quote a grammatically awkward advertising campaign) “think different” to normal folks. According to this article at VUCast from Vanderbilt University:

…professionally trained musicians more effectively use a creative technique called divergent thinking, and also use both the left and the right sides of their frontal cortex more heavily than the average person.

The research suggests that there’s particular benefit to learning music notation:

“Musicians may be particularly good at efficiently accessing and integrating competing information from both hemispheres,” Folley said. “Instrumental musicians often integrate different melodic lines with both hands into a single musical piece, and they have to be very good at simultaneously reading the musical symbols, which are like left-hemisphere-based language, and integrating the written music with their own interpretation, which has been linked to the right hemisphere.”

So can we officially declare that using Sibelius makes you smarter? Perhaps that’s a bit of a stretch.


  1. Richard Lanyon

    Not sure about that study—they admit in the press release that “overall, the musicians had higher IQ scores than the non-musicians”, and that IQ difference could be the explanation for all the rest of their results. In other words, it could just be that they chose their control group rather poorly. Having said that, I’ve not read the paper as it’s not been released yet.

    I like the blog though!

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