Brain and Music Research. The overall effect of music on the brain has been a matter of persistent debate since the oldest of times. Music is a form of art whose importance in the personal and professional lives of most individuals cannot be overstated. It can help build up the mood and make you believe many things you wouldn’t otherwise. For example, music can make you believe that you have superpowers and that you can do anything. Music can build up hope and strengthen your core beliefs; it can also promote the sense of self worth and improve your personal state of mind for the better.
In recent times, there has been a lot of brain and music research on the way music affects different parts of the brain and the how it makes each part more sensitive to newer sensations. Music introduces the sense of newer feelings and enables one to experience the full range of emotions that can be experienced in this world. Brain and music research has been a very trendy topic of research in the recent past and still there are numerous experiments being conducted around the world in order to fully understand the basis and extent of this process. There are a few surefire evidences of healthy and beneficial effects of music on the overall well being of an individual’s brain.
The most profound effect of music is its mood altering capability. It is highly able to alter the mood according to the ups and downs of tone and the variations in pitch. Different notes represent different states of mood and signify different emotions highlighting them in a well organized yet effective manner. Office workers are found to complete their tasks more effectively and in shorter times when listening to the music of their choice. The choice of music is also very important in this regard. You perform better when listening to the music you actually like.
The effect that music has on an individual is actually by setting the trigger of specific emotional responses. The way music stimulates these emotions is by causing release of certain chemicals in the brain known as neurotransmitters. These chemicals, when released at the synaptic junctions, alter the activity of subsequent nerve cells: the result is an overall effect of change in the mood by making the person experience different emotions. The main feel-good neurotransmitter of the brain is called dopamine. Its brain levels are almost always invariably increased when a person listens to his/her favorite music. It makes the body relax and experience a sense of exaltation.
Music is included as a subject in the junior classes in our schools but the trend has been changing over the past few years. Whether it is the lack of funds or some other reason, music classes are being gradually reduced or eliminated from the course altogether. This news is devastating for the kids who might actually have the raw talent for it. Their capabilities and talents will be buried for a lifetime of misery and self doubt when the same kids could have excelled to be the icons of the music industry.
Brain and music research has shown that music accelerates language development: it promotes the formation of new links and pathways and helps improve the mental capacity to learn newer words and even languages. A slight increase in IQ has been recorded in individuals who listen to music regularly as compared to others. This has resulted in better test scores and an overall level of mental and emotional maturity. Spatial intelligence is the sense of how things work together. The good results of synchronous working of different parts to function as a unit are well known to these individuals. Musicians are therefore imparted with a better sense of spatial intelligence.
Effects On Young Brains:
In the past, Mozart led people to believe that listening to his music made children smarter. The result was that people brought their infants and pregnant mothers to listen to Mozart’s music. Modern research also supports the fact that children who learn to play musical instruments at younger ages and who develop a taste for listening to music tend to do better at school and excel at subjects such as arts mathematics etc.
Brain and Music Research: Effects on Different Parts Of The Brain
The corpus callosum is a band of neurons that passes midway between the two cerebral hemispheres. It connects the right and left sides of the brain and therefore transmits the signals and impulses generated by music to different areas on both sides of the brain.
The sensory cortex stores information about the tactile feeling from the handling and playing of the instrument. It stores it in the form of memory which is how we learn how to play.
The motor cortex plays an important role in storing the memory of physical arts such as dancing, tapping and playing certain instruments.
The auditory cortex plays the role of receiving the sounds and auditory signals and processing them before forwarding to higher mental centers.
The hippocampus plays is assigned the role of storing the memory of music and emotions related to the music: it stores the feelings one had (while listening to a particular piece of music) and replays that memory, once the same music is replayed.
The cerebellum is responsible for balance and coordination. It enables one to learn different arts related to the sense of balance and posture and helps make long term memories in this regard.
Lastly, the nucleus accumbens is responsible for the emotional responses to music.
Overall Beneficial Effects Of Music On Brain:
Brain and music research has shown that music creates an overall positive environment for learning and improves the atmosphere towards a healthier side. Music leads to the development of the sense of anticipation; it increases the memory and enhances the attention span by energizing the neurons and improving the focus and concentration of the individual. Music removes the feelings of stress and worn out feelings and enhances the imaginative capabilities of the individual. Finally music provides inspiration and adds an element of fun to every activity one indulges in; it also creates the formation of new learning patterns in the brains of musicians.
If you're wondering why you can't get your high school graduation song or a catchy commercial jingle out of your head, you're not alone.
Songs that stay with us for long periods of time, or allow us to relive a memory, are often referred to as ear worms.
"The time of day they hear it, associations they have with it in connection with the world around them… these are real things that power music in our memories," said Victoria Williamson who is an applied music psychologist at the University of Sheffield in England.
Brain and Music Research: varies from person to person
There are two elements that contribute to how people experience music in their minds, she told CBC's Information Morning in Fredericton
"What makes a piece of music memorable, and what makes it catchy— so it sticks."
But what makes an earworm for one, doesn't necessarily produce an earworm in another.
"There are a few elements that are energizing about music that are likely to catch your attention. They don't reliably apply from one person to the next."
Brain and Music Research: reliving sound
Williamson notes that musical long-term memory has a widespread network in the human brain that allows us to relive sound.
"The urban myth of earworms are that they're a pain. About a third of earworm experiences are classed as annoying… and they can be very, very annoying..
"It's a fascinating example of many different psychological concepts," she says.
Brain and Music Research: new research
Earworms are a part of a family of psychology called involuntary memories that, according to Williamson, can stretch from music to thinking of a friend you haven't thought of for years.
Her work is leading towards other areas of research that could explain other types of thoughts.
"We are looking at the relationship between ear worms and other kind of intrusive thoughts," she said. "As a clinical tool for people to look at the more dangerous sides of involuntary memories that can lead to things like depression."
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