I’ve always wondered, “How does music affect the brain? Seriously.” The main reason for asking myself this was not so that I could start listening to more music to reap its beneifts.
Rather it was to understand the beauty of what I always felt whenever when I took on my studies and work while listening to music, the slow sad instrumentals, sometimes inspirational and classical music.
You may also have experienced this peace, bliss and strange calmness coupled with focus and alertness that helped you pull a two hours job in just 30 minutes or less. Right? Well, I will be handling the science behind the whole experience.
So please pay attention.
How Music Affects Emotions
Music has been seen to reduce a hormone in the brain called cortisol, which handles stress.
When you listen to slow sad or happy songs you like, you will always note that you feel some kind of relief and ease of tension and pressure after a few minutes.
The reason why this happens is that the song you listen to, based on how intensely you pay attention to it, has the ability to bring down the levels of cortisol which had gotten you angry or depressed to complete calmness.
That is how much songs, preferably the ones you love, have great impact on your moods.
Music also activates the release of dopamine, a chemical in nucleus accumbens part of the brain that is known to bring a cheerful mood.
Actually, if you were to compare two people having high levels of anxiety, one using medications to ease or while the other one listens to songs he believes can help him calm down, the second one is more likely to experience more peacefulness and in a shorter time than the first.
Singing lullabies to your kids as they go to sleep activates a hormone called Oxytocin (commonly called “The bonding hormone”), which makes the bond between the mother and the kid much stronger.
It helps connect the feelings of the mother to the emotions of the child. That is why you will find a kid much moved by anything mom does for them.
How music affects Your Mental States
In brain research, there is also a special form of music referred to as Brainwave Entrainment that was discovered decades ago that has the power to get you into any mental states, be it happiness, sleep, deep focus, meditative state, anything.
It is mainly used to help people get rid of bad mental states and help them experience happiness or more other states faster than they naturally come.
A few good examples of this music is Zen 12 which has been used for improving your meditation experience, sleep salon which is used for improving the quality of sleep, brain salon which is for bringing a number of mental states like happiness, productivity and others in minutes, and many more.
This music has also been found effective for treating many mental disorders and help with memory.
How Music Affects Your Memory
Connecting to Past Occurrences – This is perhaps the biggest contribution of music in our lives. Many people, especially myself, have the tendency to connect music with different situations in life.
Say you have a situation where you have just experienced one of the happiest moments of your life, and it happens, by chance, that there was a song playing in the background with or without your knowledge.
And then years later, you hear that song somewhere else. What happens is, you will start feeling the same high emotions you had on the particular day you heard it.
I remember when I was clearing high school and we had to go through a number of teachers to get their signatures on our clearance forms.
We had to show these forms the guard on our way out. So there was this teacher who had a song, “Whiskey Lulaby” by Brad Paisley playing on her laptop as she signed my form.
It is a sad song and I easily connected it with the perfect situation I was in at the time, the sad moment when you clear high school and know you will never see some of your classmates, ever, in your life again.
I heard it months after and the experience of clearing high school came back again. It was so moving I almost shed tears.
Helping to treat Alzheimer’s disease – A person who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease is often not able to make any form of communication.
He can’t remember anything in that state. But listening to music, personal favorite classical music, has been confirmed on many patients with Alzheimer’s to help them gain a form of consciousness that helps them come lively to the present moment and start recalling stuff.
You will even see them singing to the song, and soon enough you will see them talking.
Music Therapy for Alzheimer’s Patients
Music therapy is basically a treatment used by people who have been trained to use music to understand and help people who need emotional, mental and physical healing.
People with autism, depression, chronic pain, dementia and Alzheimer’s to mention a few are one of the kinds of people who find this very useful.
After you are done with this, you will experience a boost in your memory, concentration, and moods.
Things like temper, anxiety and stress are greatly reduced that you feel so much at peace.
This therapy has reported great success in helping to revive the memory of sufferers of Alzheimer’s.
Research shows that people who get music therapy have higher success rates of getting quickly and better treated than the those who don’t consider it.
If you want to see how effective this strategy has been for people with weak brains and the aged, you should watch a movie called Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory.
Here is the trailer.
It shows how many patients have come out of this condition by simply listening a number of songs that they loved when they were young.
How Music Affects Learning
Many schools had music programs in the past that were thrilling to be part of. When I was a kid I didn’t 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 people’s lives a whole lot easier when it came to class.
If you didn’t 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 90’s 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.
Ideally, playing music affects the body and mind of a learning kid in a very special way. And the good thing is, even if they only get to play them in their childhood and then stops when growing up, ther brains will still grow to up to be amazing.
But I’d say you train your kid before they get to seven years. These are what I call the “years of impression” where children are actively taking up anything in their environment and learning from stuff.
Physchologial Effects of Music on the Brain are Limitless!
In summary, there are many ways music makes a positive impact on your mind and body.
You just have to be a regular listener to see the advantages.
Although, I highly recommend you follow the right path for each benefit. If you want to use music to enhance your memory or for any other reason, remember to use the listed ways you should go about it.
You can get negative effects on your brain and other areas of your life with music that hasn’t been used in the right place with the right reason. So be sure to use the right thing to achieve the purpose you want.
It’s not hard and it’s usually more intuitive than anything else.
Anyways, you have seen how beneficial music is, you only need to get a number of music programs or songs and start enjoying the benefits.
If you have any questions about music in relation to the brain, please feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to help you out.