Drums are more than a thing that annoys your neighbors. It seems the instrument can change the architecture of your brain. A study in the journal Brain and Behavior put 20 professional drummers into an MRI scanner. It found that longtime drumming strengthens the corpus callosum, the large structure that connects the two brain hemispheres. It’s probably because drumming requires such advanced motor functions, with the left and right hands working independently of each other.

“People tend to perform motor tasks with either the left or the right hand, and if we need both, it’s easier to perform synchronous movements,” explains study author Lara Schlaffke, who researches neuroplasticity at Ruhr-Universität Bochum in Germany. “Drummers, however, perform movements with different rhythms with both hands and feet at the same time.”

This may postpone age-related motor deficits that occur over time, and drumming may even help stroke victims regain motor skills. Though the participating musicians had been doing their thing for decades, learning and practicing the drums, or any instrument, is useful to the brain at any age—so it’s not too late to find your inner John Bonham.


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