Classical Music And The Brain
How Does the Brain Process Music?
Music can be defined in several dimensions, such as through pitch, melody, tempo, rhythm, and timbre. The auditory dimension of the human brain goes from the bottom-up that is, information is usually passed from the lower levels of detection to the higher levels of processing.
A simple melody of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is not just a phrase of seven notes strung together it is a variety of sound frequencies, levels of loudness and softness, and duration of these sounds in space and in time.
The human ear detects these subtle qualities while the different parts of the brain interpret what the ear passes along. By studying patients with amusia caused by lesions in the brain, scientists have been able to determine which parts of the brain help us most relate to the music we hear:
Pitches are the building blocks used to make melodies. The brain mainly uses the temporal lobe for pitch processing in both hemispheres, though observations show more activity in the right side.
Furthermore, people who have the absolute pitch or perfect pitch are thought to have a structural difference in their brains. Elmers research suggests a strong connection between the auditory cortex and the frontal lobe found in those with absolute pitch.
As more layers of musical components are added, it becomes less clear how the brain integrates all of these aspects at once.
So Does Music Make You Smarter?
How Music Acts As A Natural Panacea
It seems that music can heal whatever is ailing you, be it a mental health disorder or neurological disease.
Music can alleviate the symptoms of many mood and mental disorders including:
Listening to music reduces the stress experienced by patients both before and after surgery.
It can and delirium that affects some elderly patients while theyre recovering from surgery.
Music Playlists To Boost Mood Focus Energy Relaxation
If you want to listen to music specifically to improve your mood, learning or concentration, the music streaming service Spotify is a good place to start.
Spotify has millions of songs, including a good catalog of brain-enhancing music.
Once you create a free account, use the search function to access the list of music genres.
There youll find playlists created specifically to improve mood and enhance focus.
Browse the Mood genre and youll find playlists for increasing happiness and confidence.
Other playlists are designed to energize you or calm you down.
If you are looking for music to help you relax or sleep, heres a curated playlist of the most relaxing songs on Spotify.
It includes Marconi Unions Weightless which has gotten press as being the most relaxing song in the world.
Its creation was a collaboration between musicians and a team of sound therapists.
Listening to Weightless resulted in an impressive 65% reduction in anxiety by reducing heart rate, blood pressure, and levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Another music service, , offers scientifically engineered music channels for enhancing focus based on personality type.
These playlists work, in part, by altering brainwave activity to boost focus and attention.
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Music Has Healing Powers Too
Experts are harnessing the power of music to help adults recover from brain injuries and diseases and to ease the symptoms they cause.
One example can be seen in stroke rehabilitation. Many adults who suffer a stroke lose their ability to speak. Oftentimes, however, they can still sing, and music therapists can help stroke survivors regain their speech through singing. Similarly, many adults with Parkinson’s disease struggle to walk, but music and dance can strengthen movement and improve gait.
Fmri Acquisition And Analysis
Images were acquired using a 1.5 Tesla Philips Gyroscan Intera whole-body MRI system at the Ginoeco Clinic in Porto, Portugal. Changes in blood-oxygenation level-dependent signal were measured by using gradient-echo echo-planar-imaging with TR=3000 ms, TE=50 ms, and 90° flip angle. The whole brain was covered with a total of 30 axial slices, with 4 mm thickness, 230×230 mm2 field of view, and a 64×64 acquisition matrix, yielding a voxel size of 3.5×3.5×4.0 mm3. A spoiled gradient recalled echo pulse sequence was used to collect high-resolution T1 -weighted structural images in the same session, with 1 mm thick axial slices of 230×230 mm2 field of view and a 256×256 acquisition matrix, yielding a reconstructed voxel size of 1 mm3.
FMRI data processing was carried out using FEAT Version 5.98, part of FSL . The following pre-statistics processing was applied: motion correction using MCFLIRT non-brain removal using BET spatial smoothing using a Gaussian kernel of FWHM 5 mm grand-mean intensity normalisation of the entire 4D dataset by a single multiplicative factor highpass temporal filtering . Registration of the functional images to high resolution structural and standard space images was carried out using FLIRT , .
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All Cultures Have Music
For thousands of years people have sung, performed, and enjoyed music. World travelers and social scientists have consistently observed that all of the people in the world have some type of music, and all people recognize music when they hear it, even if they have different names and categories for what they hear. While the music of other cultures will sound different and have different meanings and emotions associated with it, every culture makes it.
Researchers in different fields have summarized conclusions about the nature of music and culture after many years of observing human behavior and music. Alan Merriam, an anthropologist and one of the founders of ethnomusicology, created a list of ten commonalities of musical behavior after travelling extensively among many different people. His list, known as the Ten Functions of Music, is included in his landmark study The Anthropology of Music .
Physiological and Cultural Functions of Music
- Integrates, mobilizes, controls, expresses, unites, and normalizes.
- History, memory, emotions, cultural beliefs, and social mores. It educates, creates the status quo, and also protests against it.
Coordinates and instigates neurological and physical movement
Stimulates pleasure senses
What Part Of The Brain Does Singing Use
MRI scans show us what is happening in the brain. Certain areas, especially those on the right side of the brain light up in MRIs of healthy people when theyre singing. But its not one-sided by any means. Researcher Patel tells Chorus America: Song combines music and words, and word production is a left hemisphere-biased activity. Perhaps doing lots of singing strengthens the brain networks involved in word production and articulation, in addition to the right hemisphere circuits involved in fine control of pitch and melody.
A brain region called the bilateral dorsal laryngeal motor cortex has been found to control the larynx, including speech function.
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Chapter : Music And The Brain
Chapter Summary: Scientists are only recently beginning to investigate the relationship between music and the brain as the field of neuroscience develops. This chapter covers some of this research in terms of music processing, active listening, and benefits of the music-brain connection.
The brain is malleable from childhood to adulthood. If musical training is found to have a beneficial effect on brain function beyond that involved in musical performance, this may have implications for the education of children, for life-long strategies to preserve the fitness of the aging brain
Dr. Christo Pantev made the above statement over 10 years ago, when embarking on a groundbreaking study to show that musicians brains hear music differently from those of non-musicians. This began a wave of neurological studies on music and the brain, all of which point to the same conclusion: that musical study and training are indeed beneficial to the human brain.
How Music Affects The Brain
Feb 22, 2022 | In The Know
Music is an integral part of our lives. We listen to it when were sad or happy and hum along when we dont even know the song. But did you know there are positive benefits to listening to music? From reducing anxiety to reminding you of forgotten memories, music has powerful qualities that can enhance your life in ways you didnt think were possible.
Lets take a closer look.
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The Amazing Way Music Therapy Helps Alzheimers Patients
One of the most remarkable successes of music therapy is the impact it has on the lives of Alzheimers patients.
Advanced Alzheimers patients lose their ability to have interactive conversations with others and eventually stop speaking completely.
But music therapy has been very successful at getting through to patients even when nothing else has.
When hearing familiar music, patients often visibly light up and sing along.
It seems that musical memories far outlast other kinds of memories.
Caretakers and family members report that, for many patients, music therapy is the best part of their day.
Music therapy does more than help dementia patients remember.
It helps alleviate depression, anxiety, and agitation while improving brain function and overall quality of life.
Music therapy has been found to exert measurable changes in neurotransmitter levels in Alzheimers patients, which may be one way it positively affects their brains.
Watch the Video
To learn more about how music therapy changes the lives of elderly people in serious mental decline, I recommend the documentary Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory.
You can stream it or .
And if you have a library or university card, you can watch it for free on Kanopy.
This movie chronicles the astonishing experiences of nursing home patients whose brains have been reawakened by listening to the music of their youth.
Therapeutic Effects Of Music On Memory
Musical training has been shown to aid memory. Altenmuller et al. studied the difference between active and passive musical instruction and found both that over a longer period of time, the actively taught students retained much more information than the passively taught students. The actively taught students were also found to have greater cerebral cortex activation. The passively taught students weren’t wasting their time they, along with the active group, displayed greater left hemisphere activity, which is typical in trained musicians.
Research suggests we listen to the same songs repeatedly because of musical nostalgia. One major study, published in the journal Memory & Cognition, found that music enables the mind to evoke memories of the past.
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Brain Areas: Working In Concert
We may not realize it when listening to a favorite tune, but music activates many different parts of the brain, according to Harvard Medical School neurologist and psychiatrist David Silbersweig, MD. These include:
- The temporal lobe, including specific temporal gyri that help process tone and pitch.
- The cerebellum, which helps process and regulate rhythm, timing, and physical movement.
- The amygdala and hippocampus, which play a role in emotions and memories.
- Various parts of the brains reward system.
All of these areas, Silbersweig noted in a 2018 paper, must work in concert to integrate the various layers of sound across space and time for us to perceive a series of sounds as a musical composition.
Debra Bradley Ruder is a freelance medical writer based in Greater Boston.
Keep Your Brain Young With Music
If you want to firm up your body, head to the gym. If you want to exercise your brain, listen to music.
There are few things that stimulate the brain the way music does, says one Johns Hopkins otolaryngologist. If you want to keep your brain engaged throughout the aging process, listening to or playing music is a great tool. It provides a total brain workout.
Research has shown that listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain as well as improve sleep quality, mood, mental alertness, and memory.
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Does Singing Make You Smarter
If youre happier, more relaxed and healthier, your brain can function better too. And by singing frequently, you are continually firing up the neurotransmitters in your brain and encouraging oxygen flow. This means your cells will restore themselves faster, too. And by learning music and lyrics your memory improves .
The Science Of Hearing
The science of hearing – Douglas L. Oliver
The ability to recognize sounds and identify their location is possible thanks to the auditory system. Thats comprised of two main parts: the ear, and the brain. The ears task is to convert sound energy into neural signals the brains is to receive and process the information those signals contain. To understand how that works, Douglas L. Oliver follows a sound on its journey into the ear.
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What Happens In Your Brain When You Sing
If the list of benefits of singing wasnt long enough already, scientists have been discovering the ways in which it even helps your cognitive function. This means that the physical act of singing helps your brain work better. Add to that the learning thats involved in picking up new tunes, memorising lyrics and even writing your own music and the perks for your mind increase rapidly. You dont need to be good at it either. Its the frequency that counts.
How Music Therapy Improves Quality Of Life
Anyone can play or listen to music for recreational purposes only and still reap some benefits.
But when professional health care help is warranted, you can enlist the aid of a music therapist.
Music therapists are trained to use music therapeutically to address their patients physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs.
Music therapy has proven useful for treating people with numerous disorders including autism, dementia, Alzheimers, chronic pain, emotional trauma, anxiety, and depression.
Potential benefits of working with a music therapist include improved mood, concentration, and motivation, and decreased anxiety, anger, stress, and frustration.
You can get help finding a music therapist anywhere in the world in this directory published by the American Music Therapy Association.
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Iv Listening To Music Vs Creating Music
Both listening to and creating music are crucial factors in engaging a childs brain with music. There is, however, a clear difference in what happens in our brains when we listen to music and when we make music.
In terms of listening to music, there is a difference between the intensity and focus required to simply hear music and listening to music. Hearing is the act of perceiving sounds by the ear. In other words, if you are not hearing impaired, your ear will pick up and receive sounds. Good and active listening, on the other hand, is something that is done consciously, and requires some type of focus or engagement on behalf of the individual. Most of us are well aware of the fact that we can hear something without really listening to it or understanding it.
It is also true that all listening is not the same. In terms of our daily interactions with sound, we are constantly bombarded with all types of sounds, both chosen and unchosen. Kassabian calls the constant presence of music in modern life ubiquitous listening. Children are also inundated with sounds that enhance life or distract from it, dividing childrens already fragile attention and making it difficult for them to filter out unwanted noises and focus.
Understanding the full range of listening possibilities begins with what Peterson identifies as three types of listening: passive listening, responsive listening, and active listening.
Which Part Of The Brain Is Used For Singing
The temporal lobes can be found at the front sides of the head, near the temples. The brain can sustain considerable damage, enough to hamper the use of language , yet retain the ability to remember and sing entire songs if the temporal lobes are intact. This is because a different part of the brain is used for this kind of processing, and as such, music can be a fantastic key to unlock therapeutic healing. Its also why a speech impediment might not show up when singing it uses a different part of the brain to process.
Emotion In Music Giving You The Chills
Music is something special. Some call it a universal language, while others call it the window to the soul. In the earlier days, we would give mix-tapes to the ones we secretly liked or had a crush on, since words could not express our feelings. We used the emotion in music. And not much has changed. Tinder has a feature where you can share your favourite song, and Spotify has shareable playlists. Facebook introduced the Im listening to option as a status update, and Instagram lets you share your favourite music in your stories. Nowadays, sharing music has become easier, and its quite evident that music has taken up an extremely important role. And for many people, and even brands, the music they relate to is an extension of themselves.
Music Affects Each Brain Differently
One of the common questions from people who want to use music to better themselves is: What is the best kind of music to listen to?
The answer is: It depends.
First, consider what you hope to achieve.
For example, listening to tunes with lyrics can be distracting if you are trying to learn and process new information.
However, this kind of music can be helpful if you are working on repetitive or mundane tasks.
A surprising finding is that listening to the wrong kind of music for the situation can sometimes be dangerous.
Patients who have had heart surgery should not listen to heavy metal music or techno sounds.
Doing so can be stressful and even cause life-threatening arrhythmias.
Second, youll always get more benefits from listening to music you actually like.
One persons music can be another persons noise, as any parent of a teenager can attest.
Neuroscientists can now see that music affects each persons brain differently.
By using functional magnetic resonance imaging , researchers have found that listening to music you like increases blood flow to the brain and brain connectivity more than listening to music you dont like.
Also, the number of areas in the brain activated by music varies depending on your musical background and tastes.
Research confirms that the best type of music to increase focus and productivity should first and foremost be music you enjoy.
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