Experiencing music is a major part of each and every one of our lives. All cultures have music and a distinct sound of their own. Music and sound are a major part of what makes people what they are and they both have affected the brain in profound ways.
Your brain’s sections and how they relate/respond to music
The ability of music and sound to literally affect our body and brain is well documented. Different parts of the brain and affected differently. The tempo and type of music may also vary what goes on in our minds. If you’re interested in how this relationship works, keep reading.
When speaking strictly of the brain and it’s relationship to music, different parts of our brains react. The sensory cortex provides feedback when dancing or playing an instrument. The auditory cortex perceives and analyses tones. The visual cortex is used to read music, keep up with a partner’s or one’s own movements.
The motor cortex is involved in movements when dancing and playing instruments. The prefrontal cortex is involved with the creation of expectations which allows you to keep a beat. It also notices when those expectations are met or not allowing you to catch tempo changes.
The nucleus accumbens and amygdala are responsible for emotional reactions to the music and sounds you hear. The effects music have on people occur due to the interconnectivity of these individual parts. It’s their combined responses and sensitivity that make music what it is. Some parts, however, are a bit more involved and have researched more.
The hippocampus, crucial in creating long-term memory, is active in response to recurring musical phrases while listening. Studies have proven the relationship between short and long-term memory in the hippocampus using music.
The cerebellum is involved in the learning of motor skills and cognitive function in humans. The music’s effect on the cerebellum can be seen in dancing and foot tapping. A study has proven that playing instruments increases cerebral volume in men.
What music does to us emotionally
Happy and sad are easily understood and distinguishable moods. Music can easily be classed as one or the other. People may choose to listen to one over the other. Both are able to play interesting tricks on the human mind.
Our emotions are affected by music. There are believed to be two kinds of emotions with regards to music. These are felt emotions and perceived emotions. Listening to a happy or sad song allows one to perceive the matching emotion without actually feeling it. This trick enables people to get a window into an emotion with less risk of the personally damaging effects.
Listening to preferred music can not only improve mood. It can give a boost to productivity as well. Playing music you enjoy encourages the release of the feel-good chemical dopamine. This helps the individual avoid stress, stay happy, be creative and remain on tasks.
How music affects thought and ability
The levels of sound and noise also affect cognitive ability. A high level of noise impairs thought and overwhelms information processing abilities in the brain. It was found that a moderate noise level is best for most people. Ambient noise levels increase processing difficulty without overwhelming the brain. This promotes abstract processing leading to a higher level of creativity.
A study has proven that “practicing a musical instrument in childhood is associated with enhanced verbal ability and nonverbal reasoning.” Students with three or more years of training with a musical instrument outperformed their peers that didn’t in auditory discrimination and fine motor skills.
The benefits of the training also translated to a better vocabulary and ability to understand and analyze visual information. This means their music training will translate directly to skills they’ll use in their adult lives.
The effect of music on exercise
The effects of music during exercise have been studied for years. In 1911 it was discovered that cyclist pedaled faster while listening to music than while it was silent. Music competes with the brains signals to stop for a break when the body is tired. This makes music helping in overriding signals of fatigue. This is far more effective for low-intensity exercise than high-intensity exercise, however.
The prior is great news for anyone that loves to exercise. Exercise is proven to make people happier and if you’re into working out with ear shout of a sound system, Speaker Digital has you covered with a quality, water-resistant model.
Music is life
Now that you know the benefits, take full advantage. If you’re at a loss for ideas you can bring some headphones to the office (at moderate volumes) or with you to the park to relax. Bring your MP3 player with you next time you exercise. Just get out there and enjoy some beautiful music.