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How Does Music Affect Your Brain?

Updated: Nov 19, 2021

Music has a strong impact on the brain. Research has proven that listening to music can help with many things like pain management, stress relief, and improving memory. Just like listening to music, playing an instrument also positively impacts the brain. Let us take a look at how listening to music or playing a musical instrument can affect our brain:

Improves Your Memory

Music reminds you of beautiful and sad times that you may have experienced in your life. There is a song or piece of music that we connect with at a specific time in our life. When we listen to it, it brings back memories of those times. Music is known to evoke emotions in people, and different kinds of emotions bring different memories. Therefore, listening to music can take your mind back years.

Many studies have been conducted since the beginning of the 20th century that have linked music to memory. For instance, in 2014, a study conducted on 89 people with dementia showed that when compared to regular care, listening to music and singing improved their mood, episodic memory, and coordination considerably. A secondary benefit of listening to music was an improvement in executive functioning, attention, and cognition.

Reduces Pain

Music has healing power. Sometimes, listening to good music triggers happy memories that make you forget your pain in an instant. A 2014 study discovered that music helped people who had fibromyalgia. The study proved that patients who listened to calming music of their choice had increased functional suppleness and had reduced pain. This was a testament to the power of slow and soft music in reducing pain as it elevates your mood. In essence, listening to good music triggers opioids, which are the body's natural pain relievers.

Music Improves Mood and Mental Health

Not only does music relieve physical pain, but it can also be very effective in treating mental health problems. Music relieves mental health symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, depression, ADHD, schizophrenia, and PTSD. Individuals with mental health problems can calm down by learning to play the piano or the guitar.

Music is also beneficial in dealing with the psychological effects of serious illnesses. It is known to improve the quality of life of people who have cancer,dementia, chronic pain, and Parkinson's disease. Studies have also proved that music can reduce pain experienced pre and post-surgery. It also reduces postoperative delirium and confusion, which mostly afflicts senior patients as they recover from surgeries.

Boosts Chemicals In The Brain

One way music can improve mood is by improving the creation of dopamine. Dopamine is known as the brain's motivation molecule and is an important aspect of the pleasure-reward system. Dopamine is the chemical that creates feel-good states that you experience from a runner's high or eating chocolate. You can increase the dopamine in your system by listening to a random playlist. When your favorite songs get played unexpectedly, it triggers a dopamine boost in your body.

Additionally, playing or listening to music with others stimulates the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin is also known as the moral molecule or the trust molecule, as it helps us trust others and bond with them. It is proven that the oxytocin rush experienced by music lovers can make them more trustworthy and kind towards others.

Improves Creativity

Music is known to improve creativity in people. A majority of us like to listen to some kind of music when getting chores done. Whether we are cooking, gardening, or walking, we like to have some sort of music playing in the background. The same holds for creative work as well. The only difference is that loud music doesn't help creativity. Our brain has certain levels of tolerance for specific sound levels at different points. The points that boost creativity benefit from moderate and soft music. Along with soft music, slow music is said to get the creative juices flowing in people. This is because slow and moderate-sounding music increases the processing difficulty in the brain, promoting abstract processing. This means we struggle to process things like we normally do and hence resort to creative approaches. But when the music is too loud, our creative thinking gets impaired because we get overwhelmed by the high noise levels and struggle to register and process ideas.

Improves Motor and Reasoning Skills

Training in music or learning to play a musical instrument can significantly improve our motor and reasoning skills. A study showed that children trained to play a musical instrument for three years or more performed better in auditory discrimination abilities and fine motor skills than children who did not learn any instrument. They also did well on vocabulary and nonverbal reasoning skills that involve understanding and analyzing visual information. Thus, they were able to identify similarities and differences in shapes and sizes. They were also better at identifying relationships.

Classical Music Can Improve Visual Attention

Not only do children benefit from musical training, but even stroke patients experience improved visual attention when they listen to classical music. According to a study to test this theory, a group of stroke patients was made to listen to music while another was exposed to silence and white noises. People had the worst scores when they were exposed to silence.

Helps People Exercise

Research shows that cyclists pedaled faster when listening to music than when riding in silence. Listening to music drowns out our brain's fatigue signals. As our body gets tired from exercising, it sends a signal to the brain to stop. Music competes for the brain's attention and helps override these fatigue signals. Not only does it help us ignore the pain and exercise better, but music also helps us use our energy efficiently.

Music and learning music has several benefits. Visit to learn about our different music classes and courses. We offer several courses ranging from piano, guitar, ukulele, violin, drum, flute, singing, and music production.

Muse Mantra School of Music & Arts

3335 College Park Drive, Suite 500

The Woodlands TX 77384

(936) 267-2958

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