Monday, February 27, 2017

How Music Affects the Brain

By Allyson Reyna

Music is something that is such a vital part of today’s culture. It is a universally known language that is adhered throughout the entire world. Whether you listen to jazz, bluegrass, or reggae, music can impact the human brain in significant ways. The way it affects people, often goes overlooked; however, it has a very positive impact.

Neuroscience has been able to further research on this. Its impact is extremely pleasing to all people who play and listen to music. The way it affects people is through their happiness, productivity, health, and intelligence. It is also able to change their mood, concentration, and motivation at that given time. Music, as a whole, is quite therapeutic.

People who are avid music goers, especially musicians, have better brains. It has actually been shown through brain scans that their brains are healthier than someone who is not as relished in music. Their brains are typically more symmetrical and their corpus callosum, a band of nerves which is responsible for communication between the two sides of the brain, is larger. In general, the areas within the brain that are there for coordination, motor control, or auditory purposes are larger.  

The kind of music people listen to often resonates with their personality. There was a study at Heriot-Watt University which conducted the different kinds of personality traits that are typically cohesive with a particular style of music. For example, classical listeners are usually introverted, at ease, creative, and have a high self-esteem. On the other hand, rock and heavy metal fans have a low self-esteem, are creative, not hardworking, not outgoing, gentle, and at ease.

Music has also been proven to increase the way people learn and obtain knowledge. It helps with increased brain connectivity and spatial intelligence. A small increase in IQ, test scores, and language development are benefits that reap from music. It is able to help people to understand various subjects and is critical in careers, especially ones involving science.

If music is introduced to children at a young age, it has an especially profound impact. Just thirty minutes of music lessons can increase blood flow in the left hemisphere of the brain. It also increases brain plasticity which is responsible for the way the brain changes and grows. All kinds of methods that revolve around music are beneficial to children, especially if they are introduced at an early age.

Music can also help with a person’s physicality. It improves the way they exercise and increases a person’s physical capability. A 2012 study indicated that cyclists were required 7% less oxygen when listening to music, compared to those who did it in silence. This was due to music being able to help people use their energy in an efficient way. Another reason people are able to exercise better is when they begin to grow tired while exercising, the brain sends signals to the brain – to take a break. If music is being listened to it competes for our brain’s attention and in doing so it overrides signals of fatigue and causes the person to workout longer and harder. 

Even though many people listen to music for recreational purposes, they are receiving benefits without even realizing it. Many people even enlist the aid of a music therapist for their physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs. People with Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism, depression, and a variety of health and mental issues have had increased wellbeing due to the benefits of music. In general, music is able to improve the quality of life in many significant ways.

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