Tuesday, October 16, 2018

8 Facts About the Effect of Music on the Brain

Country, western swing, free jazz, blues, house, noise, rock and roll, power pop, jazz rock, punk rock, ska, reggae, disco, jazz rap and so on. Today, there are 17 musical genres and several hundred subgenres known, but despite this diversity, each of them has its admirers.

“What is the role of music in a person’s life?” There are many answers to the question. Today we invite you to familiarize yourself with a number of new scientific studies that have shed light on yet another little-known aspect - the influence of music on the work of the brain.





1. Can music make us happier?


According to the opinion of the American music theorist Gerald Levinson (Jerrold Levinson), musical language is no less expressive system of communication than ordinary human language as a subject of study of linguistics.

Since music carries a much more powerful emotional charge than real life events, modern psychologists increasingly resort to the use of music therapy. It is possible to explain its positive effect on the human condition by the fact that the reactions of our nervous system to cheerful and sentimental musical works are completely different. For example, participants in a recent experiment, after listening to a short composition, interpreted a neutral facial expression as happy or sad depending on what kind of melody was heard.

Emotions that have arisen under the influence of music can be divided into two types - perceived and felt. This means that a person is able to understand the mood of a musical work, even if he never had to experience such sensations in real life. Thus, with psychological disorders of a depressive nature, cheerful music only aggravates the human condition, while sad motives, on the contrary, bring bright colors to life. :)

2. How does background noise affect creativity?


In order not to go crazy with boredom while working on some painfully familiar task - for doing what, you may well receive a substantial material reward - you put on headphones, set the desired volume, select the desired playlist and press the "play" button , it is so? However, when it comes to work that requires activation of the right hemisphere, loud music is unlikely to be able to help.

As it turned out, the average noise level is a kind of a catalyst for creativity. Complicating information processing, background noise stimulates abstract thinking and adjusts the human brain to a creative working mode. That is why public places - cafes, summer playgrounds, embankments, parks, etc. - so attract creative people.

With a high level of noise, the human brain is too overloaded, as it tries not only to abstract from all distractions, but also to process information as qualitatively as possible.

3. Is it possible to determine the character of a person, knowing his musical preferences?


The results of this study, conducted by scientists at Heriot-Watt University (HWU), proved for the first time that there is a definite relationship between human-preferred musical genres and his character.

In the first part of the experiment, 36,518 young people from all over the world had to rank 104 music genres according to their personal preferences. The next stage of the research was somewhat more difficult: the participants had to break up into pairs and try to determine the character traits of their partners, based on their list of the 10 most listened tracks. Five qualities were selected for analysis: openness to new experience, extraversion, politeness, integrity and emotional balance.

The scientists came to the following conclusions:

  • blues fans are creative, sociable, polite and arrogant;

  • among jazz lovers, creative, friendly people with high self-esteem are the most common;

  • fans of classical music belong to the introverted personality type, but despite this, they have a high sense of dignity and outstanding creative abilities;

  • admirers of rap are sociable and slightly selfish;

  • among the opera lovers are polite, open, creative personalities;

  • fans of country and westerns are distinguished by their diligence and the ability to easily find a common language with others;

  • Reggae fans (reggae) have high self-esteem, are creative and sociable, but hard work is definitely not about them;

  • lovers of rhythmic dance music belong to the extrovert type of personality, possess certain creative abilities, but do not differ in good manners;

  • Indie fans have low self-esteem, they are not hardworking and often poorly educated;

  • Bollywood fans (music from Indian films) are very responsive and friendly;

  • Very often, heavy music lovers - heavy metal, hardcore, etc. - have low self-esteem, but they have great creative potential.


The results obtained allowed scientists to develop a unique model reflecting the relationship between musical preferences and a person’s character.

4. Should I listen to music while driving?


There are countless hypotheses about the amazing power of music to influence the driving process, but unfortunately, none of them provides an answer to the question of whether it is safe. The results of a recent study conducted by scientists of the Ben-Gurion University (Beersheba, Israel), allowed to question the validity of the generally accepted conjectures about the positive influence of music on the behavior of drivers while driving.

Scientists have tested how drivers are influenced by the music chosen by them independently, the “safe” compositions proposed by the researchers, and the complete absence of any musical accompaniment. As a result, the assumptions made by scientists before the experiment began were fully confirmed: the drivers made the most mistakes during the ride, accompanied by the compositions they chose, a little less dangerous situations arose in the absence of musical accompaniment, and the music proposed by the researchers had a favorable effect on the drivers.

5. Is there a connection between music and logic?


As you know, learning to play musical instruments at an early age has a positive effect on the further development of the child. In 2008, Mary Forgeard (Marie Forgeard), Ellen Winner (Ellen Winner) and Andrea Norton (Andrea Norton), teachers at the University of St. Andrews (University of St. Andrews), found that children engaged in music for about three years, superior to their peers at once on four indicators: the perception of information by ear, motor skills, vocabulary and logical thinking.

Thus, the scientists came to the conclusion that long-term intensive musical practice has a positive effect not only on the inter-hemispheric organization of auditory and motor functions, but also on the redistribution of mental functions between the left and right hemispheres of the brain (lateralization).

6. How does classical music affect stroke victims?


A small study, the results of which were published on the website of the American Association of Occupational Therapy, showed that classical music has certain rehabilitation properties.

The experiment was conducted with the participation of 16 patients who had a stroke of the right hemisphere of the brain. For one week, researchers observed how classical music, white noise and silence affect attentiveness and visual perception of each patient. The results were recorded by scientists using specially designed visual analog scales (VAS, usually used to determine the degree of pain intensity). As in the cases with creativity and driving, silence did not justify the expectations of scientists, while classical music significantly increased the patient attention span and improved their visual memory.

7. Why is wiretapping harmful? 


There is a sign in the Tokyo subway warning that telephone conversations disturb the peace of other passengers. As it turned out, this is a scientific explanation. :)

According to a study conducted by scientists at the University of California at San Diego (University of California, San Diego), if a person becomes an unwitting witness to such a “half-dialogue”, his attention is diverted more than if he had heard a full conversation.

“According to the results of a social survey, 82% of people consider telephone conversations to be frankly annoying. We were curious to find out what kind of psychological impact a passive listener can be, because today each of us has to try on this role several times a day, ”says study leader Veronica Galvan, associate professor of psychology.

In the course of the experiment, 164 volunteers were asked to decipher several anagrams. At this time, the researchers themselves were actively communicating with each other or talking on the phone, while the participants did not even suspect that the inappropriate behavior of psychologists was also part of the experiment.

Having finished with the task, those students for whom the telephone conversation served as a background, admitted that this significantly reduced their work speed and concentration, while the second half of the participants remembered with grief in half what the scientists had been talking about and whether they had spoken at all.

8. How to make workouts more productive?


Over the years, scientists have been exploring the influence of music on the process of physical training. For example, in 1911, American scientist Leonard Ayres found that cyclists pedal much faster while listening to rhythmic music than when they ride in silence.

This happens because the music simply drowns out the signals of fatigue. The body, feeling physical exhaustion, sends the corresponding impulses to the brain that the muscles need time to recuperate. Music, in turn, predetermines such signals and motivates a person to engage in longer. It should be noted that the music is especially useful during training with low or moderate intensity, since the pain that occurs during heavy exertion is almost impossible to ignore.

Musical accompaniment also helps a person to manage his energy supply in the most efficient way. A study in 2012 showed that cyclists who listen to music during a workout consume 7% less oxygen, despite the fact that the load remains unchanged.

“Some psychologists say that people have an innate preference for rhythm with a frequency of 2 hertz, which is equivalent to 120 beats per minute (bpm is the number of quarter notes per minute that determine the speed of a song), although for training on cardiovascular machines - treadmills, orbiters, exercise bikes and etc. - suitable more rhythmic music. According to the researchers, the so-called “motivational ceiling”, which ensures the peak of human productivity, are compositions with a frequency of 145 bpm. ”

Now, knowing how music affects your productivity, it remains only to synchronize your musical preferences with the training program.



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