Music is an all present aspect of the world culture. There is no archaeological evidence its true origins. But between 60,000 and 30,000 years ago, humans made paintings in the caves and jewelry among other things. These new behaviors let scientists presume that music also appeared during this period as the result of stated intentionality.
Evolutionary scientists think that music was one of the reasons prehistoric human survived. They believe that its influence on emotions helped the communication among people and integration in the group. “The emotional response people have to music is basically predicted by two main factors,” Professor Adrian North, at Curtin University told The Huffington Post Australia. “The first is whether it’s considered to be pleasant or unpleasant, and the second is how ‘active’ versus ‘sleepy’ the music is.”
1. Affects the brain
Neuroscientists now know that music influences different parts of the brain. This is one of the reasons why some professionals use it to treat anxiety disorders and depression. Hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and parietal lobe are the parts of the brain that are responsible for emotions and moods.
For example, prefrontal cortex, which is also known as “seat of good judgment”, is in charge of extreme impulses. It enables good decisions in order to prevent the unacceptable behaviors. Due to these properties, music was part of a number of therapies, like in stroke patients who learned to speak. Also, speech therapists recommend it as a therapy for stuttering.
2. A mood lifter
People turn to music when they’re experiencing any emotional turmoil. They see it as a way to lift their mood and feel better. This is because it encourages the production of serotonin – a happiness hormone. The calming tones also engulf the body with dopamine which is a neurotransmitter responsible for feeling good. Another important hormone released through music is norepinephrine which creates euphoria.
All these hormones are important for treating depression and anxiety disorder. Knowing how the music influences the production of these substances facilitates therapies for these mental states. Some scientists even believe that music can replace antidepressants in some instances. A 2013 study in the Journal of Positive Psychology found it only takes two weeks for people to recover from bad mood if they’re listening to upbeat music.
In the UK, the scientists from the Bournemouth University Dementia Institute (BUDI) have started research project called the orchestra. Its purpose is to show how patients with dementia can learn new skills. Eight demented patients participated in the project, as did students and professional musicians.
“Music touches everyone in some way, either by listening or playing,” said Anthea Innes, Ph.D., head of BUDI. “Working together to produce a collaborative output is a powerful way to bring out the best in people — not just in terms of their musical skills, but their communication skills, friendships, care, and support for one another,” she added.
3. A motivator
It’s all about the type of message the music is sending. Songs with inspirational motives can have a positive effect and make you feel better. The message and joy when singing are the motivators to pull yourself up and regain control of your surroundings. That’s why it’s recommended to listen to uplifting songs with strong meaning and motivational power. When it comes to the message, the words and tune must be in sync and jointly encourage positive actions.
4. Reduces stress levels
Music is a practical stress reliever. It can affect the tense muscles and help them relax with its calming tunes. Also, it can reduce your breathing rate and thus slow down your heart. These are all the science of relaxing and calming down.
It is believed that listening to classical music can have a specific soothing effect on the body and mind. Additionally, singing along is a great way to mitigate tension. In Japan, people use karaoke to manage stress and tension. Soothing music is, also, perfect to help you sleep and relax you before the bedtime.
5. Changes perception
When people are sad, they tend to cling to the cause of that sadness for a certain period. In order to move on and look at the bright side of life, people use music. It has the power to change the way we perceive reality and help us see other, positive aspects. Even though we usually see in movies that depressed people listen to the sad songs, that has the drowning effect. Therefore, turning up the volume of a livelier tune can change your perception for the better, believe the scientists.
6. Influences memory
Music is commonly used for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. It helps the brain to regain some memories and even improves its health. By playing music the patients’ used to love, it is possible to elevate their mood and help them become aware of the world. It makes them aware and able to communicate, as well as to reconnect with parts of their life they have forgotten.
A 2009 study by Petr Janata at the University of California found that there is a part of our brains which connect music and memories. This is triggered when we listen to emotionally significant songs from our past.
7. Used as therapy
The American Music Therapy Association says that stress, pain and loss of memories can be managed with therapy programs based on music. In 2015, The Lancet published an article on the study about how it influenced people who were going through surgery. Namely, those who listened to music before, during and after the surgery felt less pain and nervousness, compared to those who didn’t.
This study included a review of data from 73 different clinical trials involving over 7,000 subjects. Those who chose their music experienced less pain and needed less medication. “Music is a non-invasive, safe, cheap intervention that should be available to everyone undergoing surgery,” said the lead study author Catherine Meads, Ph.D., of Brunel University in the UK.
The article in the World Journal of Psychiatry addressed the effectiveness of music therapy for treatment of neurological conditions, like dementia, stroke, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Themes and variations influence the brain areas which are responsible for mood improvement, self-esteem and quality of lifestyle. This was the conclusion after the scientists reviewed 25 clinical trials examining the validity of music therapy for reduction of anxiety and depression.
It’s important to mention that there were no negative effects during the trials which make music therapy a low-risk treatment. Due to these findings, many scientists believe it has potential to enhance the brain functions.
Music is widely available and that makes it a perfect remedy for people going through psychological problems. There are many streaming services today which allow us to access it from any place and at any time. If the neuroscience continues working on the way to improve the positive effects of music on the brain, medicines might become obsolete. Also, people would much easily accept this way of therapy and feel more comfortable with its principles.
About the Author
Neil is a student of web design, DIY enthusiast and a beginner at the blogging scene. His home is the whole world because he travels a lot. While you are reading this he is probably somewhere other than where he was yesterday.