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Focusing on More Than One Interest Improves Your Brain

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Those who study music have known this for years. The discipline and dexterity required to learn a music instrument to intermediate to advanced ability affects the brain such that the performer builds skills useful in areas other than music performance. Fortune Magazine says there’s more evidence that cross-training makes you better at everything you do, while focusing on one basic skill set does not expand your brain.

It’s odd to find an article about cognitive neuroscience in a financial magazine, but the theories of cross-training are applicable to entrepreneurs or anyone who wants to build personal excellence. The Fortune article contains a few examples to illustrate the benefits of satisfying interests in seemingly unrelated activities.

Updated October 27, 2007 and originally published October 26, 2006. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar G.

The brain is brilliant. If you eat food with the opposite hand it takes different because you taste it with different parts of your tongue.

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avatar Luke Landes

I’m always fascinated when I learn new things about the way the brain operates.

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avatar finance girl

couldn’t agree more! in addition to the PF stuff I also have French as an interest (I have a weekly tutor)

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avatar Ralph Morgan

Really? How did they do a controlled experiment? Randomly select 100 people and make half learn the piano, and see if this group performed better at other tasks than the control group???

If it’s just a study of the average ability of those who cross-train, then it can’t tell whether those who cross-train get better at other things due to the training, or whether having better skills/ability to start with means that you’re more likely to cross-train or have lots of interests.


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avatar Luke Landes

There are a number of studies that show the positive cognitive effects of music lessons, and they are controlled studies.

Here are some sources:

1 2 3 4

Those four links reference four separate studies and I’m sure I can find at least 20 more if I had the time. In fact, the link between music lessons and its effects in the brain has been studied to death. If you like, you can research each of the studies and determined which experiments were controlled to your liking.

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