Listening to music is a daily pleasure for many people, but actually playing a musical instrument can help combat cognitive decline.

A recent study involving 32 young adults who listened to and played a Tibetan singing bowl showed significant changes in brain activity. When the participants played the musical instrument, it activated a variety of areas of the brain including those that involved hearing, motor function, and perception.

Playing an instrument requires all of these areas of the brain to work together, which basically makes it a form of “mental exercise” that helps the brain make and keep new connections.