Music on the Mind

Anyone who has listened to music knows the incredible power it can have over both thoughts and emotions.              Many neuroscientists believe that humans are hardwired for music.

 

“Without music, life would be a mistake” - Friedrich Nietzsche

Source: This is your brain / The science of human obsession. Dr. Daniel J.Levitin

  • Music has been used as a source of healing and rejuvenation since ancient times.  Anyone who has listened to music knows the incredible power it can have over both thoughts and emotions.
  • Many neuroscientists believe that humans are hardwired for music. This is evident in our observation of mothers soothing their babies with sounds, a behavior only found in humans, to help form a bond between mother and child. Sound, both as pure tones and as music, can affect an incredible number of physiological and psychological conditions.
  • Modern medical research has demonstrated that music is a whole brain phenomenon, modifying brain activity waves and has been shown to have broadly positive effects on our lives. Music activates so many parts of our brain that neuroscientists cannot establish a center for music in the brain as we do for a neural activity such as language. When we are exposed to music, our frontal and temporal lobes begin to process the sounds while other brain activity is working to interpret the pitch rhythm and melody.
  • While music affects auditory cortex directly, it is the involvement of the frontal lobes which evoke emotions and thoughts. When listening to music there is an increase of activity in the cerebellum which can prompt an emotional reaction and our desire to move with the melody. The nerve pathways between the hemispheres called the corpus callosum are activated, resulting in the stimulation of both the left (math & organization) and right (creative, emotional) brain.
  • Music listening enhances learning and memory through structures in the limbic system. The amygdala is involved with focused attention and processing emotions, while the hippocampus plays an essential role in transferring information into memories. Incorporating music into classroom activities has been shown to have broadly positive effects on learning, motivation, and behavior.
  • Music is a powerful medium generating a whole brain phenomenon. It influences our mood, our behavior, how we think and how we respond to our environment and others.
  • Besides the effect it has directly on the brain, music has a profound effect on our physiology. Our heartbeat and breathing responds to match the rhythm of a sound. Music listeners have a higher number of immune cells called "natural killer cells" that attack infected and cancerous cells. Chronic stress increases the hormone cortisol to abnormally high levels which has a negative effect on many bodily functions such as thyroid function and glucose metabolism. Music has been shown to lower cortisol levels by reestablishing our internal homeostasis.
  • Music is crucial in our life. Creative expression is crucial too.   
    Indeed, art is synonymous with expression, and expression is synonymous with emotional release. Images made up our thought processes before words and although language is our dominant form of communication, we still continue to form thought through images. Some of our habituated defenses associated with verbalization can be averted through art activity. Emotions which are difficult to articulate verbally can have greater opportunity for release through artistic expression.

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