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5th January 2023

12 Days of Christmas: 12 drummers neurologically reprogrammed

On the 6th day of Christmas, we discuss how drumming can affect the brain and mental health
12 Days of Christmas: 12 drummers neurologically reprogrammed
Photo: Cristian Ungureanu @ Flickr

Research has shown that drumming is not only responsible for some of the greatest songs ever made, but it is also responsible for changes seen in the brains of drummers. 

Recent studies have shown that the unique and complex coordination required by drummers alters the communication between the two hemispheres of the brain. One study, measuring the brain’s function and structure using MRI, revealed differences in the corpus callosum between drummers and non-drummers.

The corpus callosum is a large bundle of nerve fibres which allows communication between the right and left sides of the brain. It was found that drummers have higher rates of diffusion in the corpus callosum than in the control group, thought to be due to thicker fibres that can transmit impulses more quickly. Drummer’s brains were also shown to be less active than non-drummers.

These findings suggest that drumming makes the brain more efficient at coordinating motor tasks. It is an example of how completing repeated complex motor tasks can alter the structure of our brains, which could have important implications for individuals with motor disorders.

Higher brain efficiency is not the only positive effect drumming has on the brain as drumming has been shown to boost happiness and improve mental health. Research by the Royal College of Music found that drumming can reduce depression by 38% and reduce anxiety by 20%. This may be due to the endorphins and dopamine released when playing drums. 

The positive effects of drumming, alongside other possible health benefits, make drums an enticing gift for your Christmas list next year. Just don’t tell your neighbours we told you.

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