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3 Amazing Facts About How Music Affects the Brain

Music's Effect on the Brain

Music is like magic when it comes to the human psyche. It has a way of expressing what words simply can’t, of transporting us to different times and places, of evoking emotions we can’t quite explain. And different genres of music affect everyone differently. So what is the explanation for music’s seemingly magical effect on the human person? The brain, of course! It should come as no surprise to anyone that music can have a powerful, mood-altering, life-changing effect on the brain, which ultimately affects the whole being. Here are a few amazing facts about how music affects the brain.

#1. Music Affects Your Mood

We’ve all experienced it – brooding over a melancholy song when we’re feeling upset, or needing to listen to an “angry” song that accurately captures frustration or needing an upbeat tune to pump us up. Whether reflecting how we’re feeling on the inside or influencing your overall mood in general, music can impact our moods in so many different ways for various effects.

One reason could be because when we listen to a song, the brain produces serotonin, a neurotransmitter that delivers signals from one area to the brain to the other. Serotonin is an influential chemical that affects your mood. Since music boosts serotonin levels, choosing a certain type of music that accurately reflects your mood can be an incredible way to not just improve your mood, but ultimately help you process thoughts and emotions.

#2. Music Can Make You Happier

Similarly, that boosted serotonin has been shown to lower cortisol levels, reduce anxiety and overall improve happiness. Studies from the the University of Missouri have shown that when instructed to try and improve their moods while listening to upbeat tunes, patients experienced a long-term improvement in overall happiness.

One explanation for this could be because the brain processes things like rhythm and timing in the frontal lobes as a source of pleasure. When we listen to music, whatever it may be, our brains form an expectation and the anticipation for that expectation registers itself as a reward. This “feel-good” response is most likely the cause of dopamine, the happy chemical associated with pleasure in the brain.

#3. Music Helps Us Remember

Music and memory are mysteriously linked in a way that scientists can’t quite explain. However, many studies point to how music can help facilitate the learning process and help us develop memory associations. Music activates and is stored in large areas of the brain, including the auditory, motor and emotional areas, which is perhaps why we remember certain things connected to our identities when listening to familiar songs. It’s this theory which has allowed people to engage and reach patients with dementia and Alzheimer?s Disease, effectively helping them to remember who they are after listening to their favorite songs. This phenomenon is documented beautifully in the film “Alive Inside”.

Musician and songwriter Dansby Vogler explains it best: “Music is a higher form of communication. It evokes responses from all of the senses. I’ve seen it happen time after time in dementia-burdened listeners. They’ve forgotten how to tie their shoes, but they’ll recall and repeat every lyric and note in a song.”

Ultimately, science hasn’t cracked the total mystery of why music influences the brain the way that it does. But almost every human can relate to music’s power to tap into emotion and memory and we have the unique relationship between music and the brain to thank for that.

Suzanne Schaper is a Board Certified Massage Therapist serving Lenexa and Overland Park, KS. She loves sharing her knowledge for health and wellness with her customers. "A life free of pain and disease is a more full life." Suzanne enjoys assisting her customers in their pursuit of health and happiness.

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