One of the most fundamental aspects of the human condition is the creation, consumption, and subsequent adoration of music. Think of your favorite song right now, this is called "audiation", as you do this synapses in your brain fire in a pattern similar to brains that are actively listening to music. In fact music is so fundamental to our brains, that there are specific cell clusters in the auditory cortex of the human brain that only activate in response to music and sounds with musical qualities (i.e. ringtones, jingles, etc.).
Not only does music feel good emotionally, it also may help prevent and lessen the effects of degenerative cognitive conditions such as Alzheimer's. For a long time it was assumed that humans stopped producing new neurons after they were born. This assumption was based on a simple fact, neurons themselves do not go through mitosis. Therefore, the rationale was, no mitosis, no new neuron cells. It is now known that while neurons themselves cannot divide, the stem cells that produce neurons can divide well into adulthood, this is called neurogenesis. Neurogenesis is well documented in the pharmaceutical industry as many medications for the treatment of depression and anxiety such as SSRIs and SNRIs actively stimulate neurogenesis. It is well documented now too that listening to music can stimulate a bit of neurogenesis. Playing music can stimulate even greater neurogenesis creating meshes of new neurons and synaptic pathways in the brain. These additional and strengthened neural pathways give the brain a surplus of neurons that can help resist and soften the effects of diseases like Alzheimer's without the use of medication.
Pianist and OHSU Neuroscientist Dr. Larry Sherman playing piano
This is a very interesting field of research because it is clear that the act of music has lasting effects on our brain's chemistry. Future questions could potentially investigate if there is any epigenetic effects that correlate with long term music use. Given the fact that no other primates make music in the way humans do, it would be interesting to see if there is/are a "music gene(s)". It also goes to show that learning music is not only good for the soul, it is objectively good for your body. So make sure to eat your vegetables, get plenty of sleep, and enjoy your favorite musical artists, your body will thank you!