HOW MUSIC AFFECTS THE RESPONSE IN THE BRAIN

Most of the music fans today, use music a lot when working or for relaxation, but had no idea or little idea about how it really affects the brains and bodies. Since music constitutes a big part of our lives, I thought it would be necessary and interesting to analyze some of the ways our brain and body system react to it without even knowing.

I would love to add a quote by Friedrich Nietzsche “Without music, life would be a mistake”

by Friedrich Nietzsche


As I have earlier stated, music affects many different areas of our brain. In the diagram below taken from (source: this is your brain on music: a science of human obsession.) a clear picture of the effect of music on the brain is extensively analyzed. However, we’ll look at what I’d love to call ‘a scratch’.

Parts of the brain and how they relate to music

1. Happy/sad music affects our emotions:
Whenever a piece of music is presented or we listen to a piece of music we can easily know if the piece of music is specifically a piece of happy or sad music from the way it makes us feel. Obviously, the ways our brains actually respond to a piece of happy and sad music are different. The length of the music or the length of time we listen to a happy or sad does not matter, it will affect us. It will be interesting to say here that there are two kinds of emotions: perceived emotions and felt emotions. By this, we can detect the emotion of a piece of music without actually feeling them, this is the reason some of us enjoy listening to sad music rather than feeling depressed. So we can perceive the emotions related to a piece of music without actually feeling them—almost like vicarious emotions. Finally, when we listen to a piece of sad or happy music the Amygdala in the brain helps us to detect the related emotions.

2. The ambient environment can boost creativity:
Most of us like to put the volume of our music at the highest when we’re pondering through our to-do lists, right? However, when we want to achieve something creative, loud music is absolutely discouraged. A high volume of music can become noise and noise distracts the mind and our creativity. Imagine what happens in the brain when we listen to a moderate volume of music, our creative juices will be triggered and will start flowing and prevent us from getting distracted on the way as noise would do.
This is what happens, moderate noise levels reduce processing difficulty which promotes abstract processing, leading to higher creativity.
In high noise levels, however, our creative thinking is disturbed because we are overwhelmed and will be struggling in the processing of information accurately.


3. The choice of music can determine our personality:
According to the study conducted at Heriot-Watt University, the following breakdown of how the different musical genres correspond to our personality:
To simplify it, here is the relationship they have realized:
• Blues fans have high self-esteem and are creative, outgoing, gentle and mostly at ease.
• Jazz fans have high self-esteem, creative, outgoing and usually at ease.
• Classical music fans have high self-esteem, creative, introvert also at ease.
• Rap fans have high self-esteem and are extroverts.
• Opera fans have high self-esteem, creative and are gentle in nature.
• Country and western fans are hardworking and extroverts.
• Reggae fans have high self-esteem, are creative, but not hardworking. They are outgoing, gentle and at ease.
• Dance fans are creative and extroverts but not gentle.
• Indie fans have low self-esteem, are creative, but not hard working, and not gentle.
• Bollywood fans are creative and extroverts.
• Rock/heavy metal fans have low self-esteem, are creative, not hard-working, introvert, gentle, and at ease
• Chart pop fans have high self-esteem, are hardworking, extrovert and gentle, but are not creative and not at ease at all.
• Soul fans have high self-esteem, creative, extrovert, gentle, and at ease.
Well, we can say that generalizing based on this study is not appropriate. However, looking at the science of introverts and extroverts, there are some clear relationships.

4. Music can create a distraction to us while driving (which is the opposite of the common belief):
From the observation of how drivers behave when they listen to music while driving; drivers who listen to rap and pop music seems to driver so aggressively than drivers who listen to soft and cool music such as blues.
Music can go a long way to affect the way we drive. As drivers, we are cautioned to avoid all types of distraction. If you are overwhelmed by the lyrics of music, it can create a distraction.


5. Music training can effectively promote our motor and reasoning skills:
Our usual belief is that learning a musical instrument as a kid can be very helpful to the kid, but it’s practically extremely useful in more ways than we what we might expect or know. Researchers have found out that those children who had three years or more musical instrument training performed better than those who didn’t learn an instrument in auditory discrimination abilities and fine motor skills.
Those youngsters perform well in vocabulary and nonverbal reasoning skills, that involve understanding and analyzing visual data, like characteristic relationships, similarities, and variations between shapes and patterns.

Learning a musical instrument and the brain

6. Classical music can promote visual and mental attention:
It has been confirmed that Stroke patients can improve visual attention while listening to classical music. Also, music can help to promote our mental health. It is interesting to know that music is the food of the soul and medicine for mental sickness. We can take an example from the story of Kind soul and David with his harp. The classical music from David’s harp went a long way to healing Soul though not completely but was able to calm the King.

7. Music helps us during exercise:
Music does not only help us during driving but it’s mostly used when we’re exercising. Researchers found out that music during exercise is very encouraging. In 1911, Associate in Nursingyankresearch worker, Leonard Ayres, observed that cyclists pedaled faster while listening to music than they did without music.

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