Health information

How music affects the human brain

Over the centuries, people have used music to communicate, express their emotions and to evoke certain feelings in another person. Nevertheless, it was not until the 1950s that European and American physicians began to notice that some melodies contributed to a more rapid recovery of patients. Since then, scientists around the world have been looking for an answer to the question: how does music affect the human brain, emotions and behavior?

Modern studies show that various melodies help relieve stress, overcome depression, anxiety and anger, accelerate the recovery of patients after surgery, and even reduce the risk of developing senile insanity. Listening to different styles of music can cause us both positive emotions and sadness. It is only important to know what and when to listen.

How our brain perceives sounds

Sound is nothing but a wave of mechanical vibrations propagating in a particular medium. It can pass through liquids, solids, gases. When this wave, moving by air, reaches our ear, or rather the eardrum, we hear certain sounds. Different sounds, entering the inner ear, activate different areas of the brain. Interestingly, the result of this influence often depends on a person’s musical background. That is, the same melody can cause different emotions in different people and activate different areas of the brain. Nevertheless, there are some general patterns of the influence of music on people.

The brain is the control center of the human body. It consists of two hemispheres: the right (responsible for intuition, creativity, imagination) and left (responsible for verbal information, analytical thinking, logic, language abilities). That is, the right hemisphere of the brain processes information intuitively, visually and creatively, and the left - through analytical thinking, logic and complex mathematical calculations. But both hemispheres do not work offline, but are interconnected by the corpus callosum - the plexus of nerve fibers.

Everything that happens to a person every second throughout life affects the brain to one degree or another. Music including. Under its influence activates the exchange of information between the two hemispheres of the brain, allowing them to work in harmony. Since music is non-verbal information, it affects the right hemisphere. But as soon as words are added to the melody, the influence on the left part of the organ begins. Thus, any song activates both hemispheres. By the way, as scientists have discovered, the temporal lobe of the brain (the so-called auditory cortex) can be influenced not only by the actually heard melody, but also by the imaginary one.

And scientists have discovered that sounds can affect the neuroplasticity of the brain, that is, its ability to form new neural connections. The neurons of the brain throughout our life interact with each other. But the patterns of this interaction can change over time. This happens, for example, after a brain injury or as a person grows up (the structure of the brain also changes under the influence of life experience). But as it turned out, there is another factor that can affect the neuroplasticity of the brain. This is music. In the course of scientific observations, scientists found that sometimes, when neurons lose the ability to interact with each other in familiar combinations, under the influence of certain melodies, they begin to plot an alternative route for themselves. So, music therapy helps patients recover from severe head injuries (when speech or memory has suffered).

Does the brain like music

If you think that there are no people on the planet who would not like music at all (in any direction), then you are mistaken. Scientists say that about 5% of the world's population is completely indifferent to musical sounds. Employees of McGill University (Canada) compared the processes occurring in the brain of music lovers and people who do not tolerate music. It turned out that antimelomania, while listening to any melody, do not activate brain regions designed to process sound signals, and their organisms do not produce pleasure hormones against the background of music. But at the same time, it turned out that these areas of the brain in antimelomanes are not always “paralyzed”. In other cases, they respond quite adequately. Why this happens, researchers still have to figure it out. In the meantime, it is known that, against the background of listening to melodies, most people have improved mood, are depressed, apathetic, that is, our brain definitely likes music. In addition, an international team of scientists conducted a study in which it proved that people love melodies at the genetic level and is closely interrelated with the production of dopamine (a brain neurotransmitter responsible for the feeling of pleasure). And the more a person listens to a melody, the more dopamine the body produces.

How different melodies affect our emotions

Studies show that music can affect the neural network of the brain, thereby stimulating certain emotions and causing changes in mood. Probably, many had to watch how small children, under the tune they liked, first began to smile, and then move to the beat. Another example is lullabies. For centuries in all countries of the world mothers sing songs to babies. Children listen, calm down and fall asleep.

One of the reasons for such emotional changes is the hormone oxytocin, the production of which is activated against the background of the heard singing. This hormone is called the cause of the close relationship between the mother and the child listening to lullabies. Researchers suggest that oxytocin reduces the activity of areas of the brain responsible for fear and anxiety, so the release of the hormone makes a person more calm and trusting. In some cases, oxytocin prevents the production of cortisol, a stress hormone. In addition, scientists have found that listening to music contributes to the development of the hormone dopamine, which is responsible for the feeling of pleasure.

What is better for the brain: funny or sad melody

A group of scientists from Finland and Great Britain discovered that even sad melodies can trigger processes in the brain that will improve mood. Summing up the observation, the researchers pointed out that people, oddly enough, have a special kind of satisfaction and emotions while watching tragic films or listening to sad songs. Japanese scientists made their contribution to the study. They determined that sad experiences for our brain are usually associated with romantic feelings, and for some people in a state of sadness, it is useful to listen to minor music, because it acts on the brain as a psychological trick - it makes it easier to survive your own tragedy. At the same time, the male and female brain reacts differently to sad and aggressive music. In women, against the background of such melodies, the part of the brain that is responsible for emotional control is activated. In men, the opposite is true. Therefore, it is better not to listen to a strong sex in a state of sadness.

An interesting experiment with listening to major and minor melodies was conducted by scientists from Ireland. They found evidence that listening to a particular music can affect the perception of the emotions of another person. Participants in the experiment were given several photos of strangers and asked to determine which emotion conveys a facial expression. In the end, it turned out that, under funny melodies, people looked at happiness in unfamiliar faces, while under sad melodies in the same photos, the subjects saw neutral or sad facial expressions.

Music and ...

... memory

In 2014, the American film “Alive Inside” (Alive Inside) was released. The plot is based on a story about a nursing home employee who once decided to conduct an experiment and brought an iPod with different styles of music to the hospital. What happened next shocked everyone: Alzheimer's patients, listening to various songs, began to recall events from their past. But what is most surprising, the story told in the film is not fiction, but a fact that has a scientific explanation. Back in 2009, staff at the University of California discovered a region of the brain that links music and memories. That is, after hearing a melody from the past, a person begins to remember the emotions and events associated with it.

... performance

The results of most studies show that listening to music can improve performance. But at the same time it is important to know which music is better to listen at work.

Cheerful, positive melodies always activate creative abilities and improve the ability to work in a team. This was discovered by Dutch specialists. In the course of the experiment, scientists suggested several labor groups to listen to sad, cheerful, calm, disturbing music while they were working, and the control group worked in silence. As a result, it turned out that the group that listened to cheerful melodies showed the best results.

In addition, scientists have found that it is useful to listen to instrumental music to increase concentration and productivity at work. Listening to melodies with words, on the contrary, distracts a person’s attention from solving problems. But for people whose work is connected with monotonous actions and does not require increased concentration, on the contrary, it is more useful to listen to songs. They are distracting and make the work not so boring.

Back in 1972, American researchers conducted an experiment in which they found that in people performing monotonous work, productivity increases if music plays in the background. Twenty years later, scientists found that musical accompaniment is useful even in the work of surgeons, and mathematical tasks are easier to solve to the sounds of classical or rock songs. In addition, it was found that listening to the sounds of nature has a positive effect on the performance of people in various specialties. But to get the maximum benefit from music in the workplace, it is useful to alternate periods of work in silence and work to the sound of melodies.

… creation

Different sounds affect the rhythms of the brain in different ways. Music causes fluctuations in alpha and theta waves. In humans, the creative picture of brain fluctuations has some special features. In particular, when a surge of alpha waves occurs, a person feels a desire to create, a wave of creativity, as they say, rolls on him. A similar effect gives a surge of theta waves, but they are also responsible for relaxation and sleep. Also, scientists analyzed how different in strength sounds affect the creative processes. It turned out that the optimal volume for performing creative tasks is a moderate noise within 70 decibels, while the noise from 85 decibels negatively affects a person’s creativity.

... sexual attraction

Darwin also suggested that music evolved as part of evolutionary selection. Recall at least the birds. For males, singing is a way to attract a female. Although not every song she responds.

Experts at the University of Vienna decided to test the theory of the "sexuality" of music on the example of people. The participants in the experiment had to look through photos of different people and answer whether they were ready to go on a romantic date with the person from the photo. But before examining the faces of strangers, participants in the experience were offered to listen to several tunes. Then the answers were compared with the responses of people from the control group. It turned out that the women who listened to the music were more supportive of the men in the photo and more often than representatives from the control group were ready to go on a date with a stranger. But the men, as it turned out, the songs did not make any impression: the answers of the representatives of both groups almost did not differ.

... playing sports

Training to music is much more useful and more pleasant for our organisms than sports in silence. And all because melodies block signals of fatigue in the brain. For example, as early as the beginning of the twentieth century, the American researcher Leonard Aires discovered that, with music, people usually pedal the bicycle faster. A century later, modern scientists also found confirmation of this fact: to the sound of various melodies, cyclists burn more calories.

Healing properties of music

You already know that listening to music contributes to the production of dopamine - the hormone of happiness. But even more benefit the human body can get from music lessons. It turned out that singing and playing different musical instruments improves attention, motility and interaction between the two hemispheres of the brain.

Music has an analgesic effect - American scientists told about this after observing the patients in the postoperative period. Patients from the orthopedic department who underwent spinal surgery participated in the experiment.

The first group of patients was offered to listen to their favorite music, patients from the second group were restored under normal hospital conditions. When patients from the two groups were asked to describe the nature of the pain experienced, it turned out that music lovers feel much better than patients from the control group.

Why loud music plays in bars

Loud music in drinking establishments is not accidental: under its influence, people drink more alcohol in a shorter period of time. Confirmation of this found the French researchers. A group of scientists watched men between the ages of 18 and 25 and found evidence that changing the volume of the music affects the rate of alcohol consumption. Scientists explain this phenomenon by the influence of sound on the brain.

The louder the music, the higher the excitement and the greater the desire to drink and eat.

Character and musical preferences: is there a relationship

After analyzing the musical preferences of more than 35.5 thousand young people from all over the world, the scientists followed the conclusion that lovers of the same musical styles have many common features.

According to observations, fans of "heavy" music are usually calm people, but among them there are many people with low self-esteem. Blues and jazz are more like creative, sociable and polite people. And still such music is often preferred by arrogant and nervous personalities. Most often, introverts with creative instincts and high self-esteem are preferred to classics, and passionate lovers of opera are, as a rule, creative, open and polite personalities.

Reggae - the choice of people with high self-esteem, sociable, talented, but lazy. Rhythmic dance motifs do not leave indifferent extroverts with creative abilities, but, as a rule, poor manners. Not the best parenting can boast of indie music lovers. In addition, among them are often very lazy and underestimating people.

Rap - the choice of sociable, but slightly selfish. Country is a favorite destination of hardworking and sociable people. But at the same time, people with such musical preferences are more prone to suicide than others.

The effect of different sound frequencies on the brain

Not only the direction of music and its volume are decisive in terms of the impact on the brain. Each note has a specific frequency, which in one way or another affects the brain. And this should also be taken into account when compiling a playlist with the aim of causing certain reactions in the brain, affecting well-being.

WavesHertz levelCreated effectWhen to listen
Beta14-40Awakening, activation of consciousness, surge of strengthTo improve performance and energy
Alpha8-14Calm and relaxationFor meditation, relaxation, during work breaks, to activate creative mood
Theta4-8Deep relaxationWhen you want to dream, go into a state of deep relaxation
Delta0-4Deep dreamless sleepWhen you need to quickly recuperate and relax

Music can improve health, make us happier, smarter and more active. Researchers from different countries have found a lot of evidence that different melodies influence our brain to one degree or another. Of course, this is not yet a reason for the roots to change their musical preferences. Listen to what you like and remember that the melody in the headphones in the first place should be fun. Be guided by your own taste and preferences, although sometimes listening to the advice of researchers will also be good.

Watch the video: Exploring Music's Impact on the Brain (January 2020).