Ukulele and the Brain

Presenters, Dr. Jane Bentley (Musician) and Kirti Ranchod (Neurologist) – Saturday 12 noon @ the Eblana Club – No Charge

Fish oils? Meditation? How about ukulele as a strategy for healthy ageing?

Ukulele is the ultimate accessible instrument – offering quick results in actually being able to play music, and an endless avenue for development for those who want to take things further. Couple that with the friendship and fun of a ukulele club – and you have a powerful combination.

Keen uke player, Jane Bentley, met neurologist, Dr. Kirti Ranchod as part of a year’s fellowship at the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI) at Trinity College in Dublin. The Atlantic Fellows for Equity in Brain Health program at GBHI provides training in brain health and leadership to a broad array of promising leaders from various professions, including medicine, science, business, law, journalism, social science, and the arts.

As a musician, it was quite a stretch to spend a year as a research fellow at the faculty of medicine, but the more Jane discovered about brains, the more it became apparent that joining the local ukulele club might be one of the best things you could do for a healthy one!

Up to 30% of cases of dementia are potentially preventable through lifestyle changes – so there is much we can do to stay sharp for longer. What is less known is that as well as the more usual advice such as exercise and following a healthy diet, two other factors contributing to a healthy brain are learning new (and cognitively demanding) things, and social engagement – staying connected to other people. Exactly what you’ll find through joining a ukulele club: learning and sharing enthusiasm with others.

And in a clear case of ‘physician, heal thyself’, there is now a fledgling band of ukulele players at the Global Brain Health Institute!

This short talk at the Hooley will provide an introduction to the many neurological processes at work as we learn to play, and an insight into how this works towards maintaining a healthy brain. Suitable for absolute beginners to the ukulele; anyone interested in living well for longer; and teachers and club leaders who would like to find new ways to increase their membership and reach potential new audiences.

Ukuleles at the Global Brain Health Institute, Trinity College, Dublin: From left to right – Dr Jane Bentley (Musician, Scotland), Dr Stefania Ilinca (Health economist, Romania), Dr Eimear McGlinchey (Researcher, Ireland), and Dr Kirti Ranchod (Neurologist, South Africa)