"Music is the shorthand of emotion," said Leo Tolstoy. Which helps to explain why playing a musical instrument makes you significantly better at picking up on how other people are really feeling
—the upshot of a study published by the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
. Researchers discovered that musicians (novices included) have sharper and more sensitive neural tuning than non-musicians, which helps them hear more emotion in the pitch and timbre of human voices. This may translate into superior mind-reading skills—like knowing how genuine your neighbor is when she chirps hello or whether your crying baby (or partner) is hungry, angry or just has gas.