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How Does Music Affect The Brain

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Music And Brain Power

How Does Music Affect Your Brain? | Tech Effects | WIRED

As your brain processes music, it releases the neurotransmitter called dopamine. You may have heard of this natural, mood-improving chemical in our brains.

But did you know dopamine can also improve alertness and creativity?

Furthermore, dopamine is the chemical responsible for helping us to create a routine. We can build healthy habits when our brains release dopamine. It is the physiological way our body encourages us to repeat enjoyable behaviors.

Thus, you can have a healthy and creative addiction to music. Luckily the most common side effects of music addiction are positivity and health.

Music, simply put, is a drug of the best kind.

Wheres The Most Unlikely Place That Music Is Used

Forget popping a paracetamol music has also found an unlikely use as a form of pain relief. One of the experiments that researchers use to test peoples responses to pain involves asking subjects to keep their hands in freezing cold water for as long as possible.

Psychologists Laura Mitchell and Raymond MacDonald have found that listening to music helps people to stand the pain for longer and is particularly effective if the subjects choose the music themselves.

Read more about the effect of music:

This choice gave the participants a feeling of empowerment, which helped them to cope with discomfort for longer. The concept of pain reduction through empowerment has also been shown to reduce discomfort during dental treatment.

The patients felt less pain if they chose the music especially if they were given a handheld volume controller. Intriguingly, the best results happened when the patient was specifically told that their control over the music would reduce the pain.

So The Right Brain Is Entirely Responsible For Music

The answer is no.Both hemispheres share certain physiological functions. There isnt any kind of left-right dichotomy in our brains – in fact, its far more complicated than that.When it comes to processing music, both auditory cortices in your brain as well as the hippocampus are responsible.

The big takeaway here is the evidence these studies provide about how music clearly does have an effect on our brains and elicits a response that can be seen through magnetic resonance imaging .

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Music Can Improve Focus

If youre trying to do something that requires intense focus, like work or study, you might think that music would distract you. But evidence shows that thats not the case!

Music can improve your focus for several reasons. Firstly, it reduces stress hormones and makes you more relaxed. This, in turn, helps you clear your mind of agitation to focus on your task.

Music also stimulates the centers of the brain that deal with concentration, information retention, memory, organization, and making predictions, all of which help when youre trying to focus on a task.

How Music Affects Learning

How does music affect your brain?

Many schools had music programs in the past that were thrilling to be part of. When I was a kid I didnt play any of the instruments but I loved watching and listening to them.

Sadly, today only a few are still there.

It was said that they were incurring too many costs with barely any benefits.

But truth is, these programs helped make peoples lives a whole lot easier when it came to class.

If you didnt know, music helps ignite in children a form of intelligence related to space. This is often called spatial intelligence, it makes the understanding of the mechanism of things, how things should ideally work best known to them.

And if you followed these children who have played musical instruments in class, you would see their super performance in units like mathematics, languages and logical thinking and reading.

That is why you are going to find many musicians writing great inspirational works that influence millions of people all over the world.

The whole idea of music programs came from Mozart Effect.

If you are not familiar with it, it was music made in the early 90s by Mozart claiming that it helped give babies enough ammunition to get their brains up and running and to make them even more brilliant in academics and life as a whole.

The idea was very serious that parents used to have their babies listen to the effect even when in the womb before they were brought in the world.

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Music Can Improve Physical Activity

If you think that your workout is better when you have your Spotify playlist at hand, youre not wrong. Music has been shown to make physical activity more effective! It does this by providing a distraction from pain and fatigue while increasing good hormones and decreasing stress hormones.

The result is that people have better endurance, a happier mood, and even a more efficient metabolism. There have been various studies about what type of music is the most effective for a good workout, including classical music or songs that are upbeat and energetic.

Why Did Music Evolve In The First Place

Music is ancient and extends throughout all societies around the world, so it probably has links to the survival of our species.

As any football fan will tell you, communal singing can help form a more cohesive social group.

This bonding effect is a strong contender for why music exists in prehistoric times, groups who sang together would protect each other more tenaciously from predators or enemies.

Whats more, music has been found to aid the release of the hormone oxytocin.

This hormone is also released during breastfeeding and sexual intercourse, and may have a powerful bonding effect.

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Feeling Down Just Press Play

Next time you’re feeling down, just press play on some upbeat music.

The music will pick you up and put a smile on your face.

Even better, remember back to a specific time in your life. A time you were really happy.

Then, try to remember what music you listened to back then, and play that.

You will be flooded with the emotions you experienced at that time, affecting the way you experience the world around you in the present moment.

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How Music Affects Your Brain

And music activates the amygdala, a part of the brain involved with emotional responses. This activation is what causes people to feel intense emotion because of music.

Music often makes us feel good, which activates various parts of our reward system, releasing the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine, also known as the happiness hormone, is involved with motivation and reward, and serotonin is thought to regulate happiness, mood and anxiety.

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Music Can Make You More Productive

Many studies have shown that music can help you be more productive, especially if you choose your music. This is related to the release of hormones, including dopamine and oxytocin. These hormones are related to pleasure and reward perception in the brain, making you feel happier and more relaxed as you work.

But its not just increased productivity its also improved accuracy. These same studies have shown that surgeons operate faster and more precisely when listening to music during surgery, especially the music of their choice.

Pleasant Music Can Improve Visual Attention

In yet another way in which music has been identified to impact brain function, patients which have been affected by a stroke have been shown to exhibit increased visual attention after exposure to pleasant or happy music.

A recent study of 19 stroke patients delivered three types of aural stimuli: pleasant music, white noise, and dissonant/unpleasant music. The results displayed that the patients who listened to the pleasant music had higher activity scores on three different types of tests that measured visual activity. Bonus points they also experienced positive moods as well.

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Music Can Aid With Hormonal Imbalances

Music especially certain types of music can even help hormonal imbalances. One study indicated that music improved hormone levels in people with certain genetic disorders such as Williams Syndrome.

The study also concluded that it could help correct other hormonal imbalances, like those associated with post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. Though music alone isnt a perfect cure for any of these diagnoses, researchers continue to investigate how music therapy could play an important role in treating them.

Strengthening The Brain: Memory


As you can imagine, playing a complicated piece of music takes both cognitive and emotional insight. Not only does a conductor or musician need to pay attention to detail, but they must also have a feel for the emotional content or depth of a song. A popular theory among scientists is that musicians have enhanced memory function from the routine of multitasking to perform a piece, and they can create, store, and retrieve memories more efficiently than others.

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How Music Affects The Brain: Take The Next Step

The evidence is clear playing a musical instrument or listening to music can positively affect brain health and performance.

This brain-boosting effect is evident at all stages of life, benefiting everyone from babies to seniors.

Music can improve mood, increase intelligence, enhance learning and concentration, and reduce the effects of brain aging.

Music therapy can help various mood and mental health disorders, and even improve the quality of life for people with serious neurological disorders.

The Structure Among The Functions Of Music

With each successive study of musical functions, the aggregate list of potential uses has grown longer. Questionnaire studies, in particular, have led to the proliferation of possible ways in which music may be relevant in people’s lives. Even if one sidesteps the question of possible evolutionary origins, the multitude of hundreds of proposed functions raises the question of whether these might not be distilled to a smaller set of basic dimensions.

As noted earlier, previous research appears to converge on four dimensions: social functions , emotional functions , cognitive or self-related functions , and arousal-related functions . These four dimensions might well account for the basic ways in which people use music in their daily lives.

Accordingly, we propose to address the question of musical functions anew, starting with the most comprehensive list yet of potential music-related functions. In addition, we will aim to recruit a sample of participants covering all age groups, a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds, and pursue our analysis without biasing the materials to any specific theory.

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Music Can Help Your Body To Improve Its Hormonalbalance

When we listento sad music, melodies that we dont enjoy, or compositions that cause us torecall uncomfortable memories, then there are stress hormones like cortisol thatare released by the body.

As the cortisollevels increase, there are higher levels of anxiety begin to appear.

If hormonelevels become unbalanced to a great extent, then severe stress events mayoccur.

When we listento music which we enjoy, then dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins are released.

Thiscombination makes us feel happy, confident, and relaxed.

These are the same hormones which are released when we exercise, have fun, or consume foods which we enjoy eating.

If you love to eat chocolate, your body responds in the same way as if you like to listen to Nirvana.

Music Improves Your Focus

How Music Affects Your Brain

Have you evernoticed what happens when your favorite song comes on your playlist?

A sort oftunnel vision happens where you focus on the elements of the song and how theymake you feel.

This improvedfocus occurs because music is one of the few things in this world thatstimulates the entire brain instead of just a portion of it.

You can applythis benefit of music in several unique ways.

Some people use music to help them clear their minds when meditating.

Others usemusic while studying or working so they can retain more of the information thatthey are attempting to absorb.

It is usefulduring a lengthy session of exercise on a treadmill because it takes the mindsfocus off of fatigue and toward whatever the end goal happens to be.

One of the mostnovel focal points that music is able to create is a focus on sleep.

For those who struggle to clear their minds because of racing thoughts or to-do lists at night, music will eliminate those distractions effectively and cause the brain to focus on the task at hand instead.

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Music May Make You Smarter

So lets get a bit more specific with this one listening to music wont necessarily improve your IQ, nor will it help kids get better grades. However, several studies have shown that listening to music can help with verbal and spatial-temporal reasoning. Music is also connected to emotional intelligence and clarity.

A significant difference happens with musical training. Learning to play an instrument helps develop a lot of essential skills, which might boost your IQ. Scientists are still learning the exact specifics of how this works, but there are many theories.

Music Can Lift Your Emotional Iq Levels

Another excitingbenefit that music has on our brains is that it helps us to read other peopleeffectively.

When doing thesame with sad and depressing pieces of music, again, the same results wereachieved, except this time with negative expressions and body language.

Children with adiagnosis on the autism spectrum experience some of the largest gains inemotional IQ improvement through the use of music therapy.

This occursbecause music stimulates both hemispheres of the brain simultaneously.

Using thisstimulation, specific communicative behaviors can be taught.

Interactionswith other people are encouraged.

Over time, this process allows children to overcome some of the issues or behaviors that may work to hold them back.

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Playing An Instrument Improves Brain Connectivity

Taking music lessons, especially in early childhood, has been shown to improve brain plasticity. This term refers to the brains ability to grow and develop better connections.

Studies comparing musicians brains to those of people who did not play instruments reflected these findings. People who play instruments have more developed brains, better blood flow, and more thoroughly formed synapses.

Additionally, musicians consistently have better auditory processing skills, memorization abilities, motor control, and mental flexibility. These abilities last even into old age, continuing to provide benefits as people reach their final years. Senior citizens who play instruments experience lower levels of cognitive decline than others.

It Can Help Treat Mental Illness

How music affects the brain

Music literally changes the brain. Neurological researchers have found that listening to music triggers the release of several neurochemicals that play a role in brain function and mental health:

  • dopamine, a chemical associated with pleasure and reward centers
  • stress hormones like cortisol
  • serotonin and other hormones related to immunity
  • oxytocin, a chemical that fosters the ability to connect to others

Although more research needs to be done to understand precisely how music can be used therapeutically to treat mental illness, some

critical illness feel less anxiety after music therapy.

Theres conflicting evidence about whether listening to music has an effect on your bodys physiological stress response, however. indicated that the body releases less cortisol, a stress hormone, when people listen to music. This same study referenced previous research stating that music had little measurable effect on cortisol levels.

One recent that measured several indicators of stress concluded that while listening to music before a stressful event doesnt reduce anxiety, listening to relaxing music after a stressful event can help your nervous system recover faster.

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Music Can Relieve Pain

Weve talked about how music can relieve emotional or mental pain. But perhaps even more amazingly, it can bring relief from physical pain as well.

It does this first by distracting from the pain, much as it does during physical exercise. It also stimulates the release of happy, peaceful chemicals, which mute pain. By helping the brain release endorphins, music decreases stress levels and increases feelings of calm and happiness, which can help someone in distress.

Scientists are still exploring the ways that music therapy can help people with chronic pain.

Music Can Help With Stroke Recovery

After a stroke, people may have difficulty learning to do basic tasks once again, including walk, speak, and use their hands. Strokes can also cause memory loss. But amazingly, music therapy is now an important part of stroke recovery.

After a stroke, synapses in the brain are damaged. Music helps repair these by stimulating them in a way other therapies cant. Meanwhile, it also increases blood flow to the brain, another critical aspect of stroke recovery.

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Can Music Really Affect Our Behaviour

Yes. Take, for instance, the background music thats often played in shops and restaurants. This can have a surprisingly powerful influence on how we behave.

Working in the 1980s, US marketing professor Ronald Milliman discovered that slow, relaxing music in a restaurant actually makes you eat more slowly and increases the amount you spend on drinks during the meal.

The tempo of the music also has an effect on how quickly you walk around a shop or supermarket you tend to browse and buy more if the music is calming and relaxed.

Surprisingly, the choice of background music can even influence which items you buy. One test, carried out by psychologists at the University of Leicester in 1999, involved changing the background music near a display of German and French wines in a supermarket.

The German wine sold twice as fast if stereotypically German music was playing. However, when French accordion music was being piped out, the French wine was five times more popular than the German.

Other research in this area has shown that the correct choice of background music can increase the income of a shop or restaurant by 10 per cent a surprisingly large effect for something that many of us barely notice. Another indication of the power of background music is something known as the Manilow method.

In 2006, Sydneys city council was trying to work out how to disperse the groups of teenagers who were hanging out in the shopping malls.

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