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Playing Music Good for Brain

A University of Helsinki research group has identified the positive effects of music performance on the gene expression profiles of professional musicians from the Tapiola Sinfonietta orchestra and Sibelius-Academy music university.

Playing music enhanced the activity of genes involved in dopaminergic neurotransmission, motor function, learning and memory, according to the study. Some of the up-regulated genes like SNCA, FOS and DUSP1 are known to contribute to song perception and production in songbirds.

In addition, several of the up-regulated genes are involved in biological pathways like calcium ion homeostasis and iron ion homeostasis that are essential for neuronal function, survival and neuroprotection. “The findings provide a valuable background for molecular studies of music perception and evolution, and music therapy,” notes study leader Dr. Irma Järvelä.

This study is part of a larger Finnish research project using genomic and bioinformatics approaches to learn more about the biological background of music. Study results were published in Scientific Reports.