The thing is, these days you listen to some amount of music every day whether you want it or not. For music has gained a certain level of omniscience-present in the mall, sometimes at the work place, definitely at the gym, and when you’re home it’s almost always blaring from the television. What this means is that you are getting affected by the tunes in myriad ways- ways which you aren’t even aware of. And here are 8 unbelievable ways in which music affects you, according to science.
1. Happy/Sad music affects the way you read people’s expressions
It’s kinda obvious that the type of music that you listen to-happy or sad, will have a direct effect on your resultant mood. But research shows that that’s not the only way in which the music affects you. If you listen to a sad tune even for a little while and see a neutral expression on someone’s face, chances are you’ll read that expression as sad. This works in a similar manner with happy music too! The biased reading is applicable with not just neutral expressions but also with other types of expressions, though it’s the strongest when you are presented with a neutral face.
2. Ambient music improves creativity
There are writers who practise their art while listening to rock n’ roll, including famous writers- Stephen King being a case in point. So, maybe this isn’t applicable to everyone, but as per science, listening to music with average noise levels increases your creativity. The reason is that this sort of music forces your brain to process more strongly which leads to abstract processing-something that supports higher creativity. However, with music with higher noise levels, your information-processing becomes clunky, meaning lesser creativity.
3. Contrary to popular belief, music can distract you while driving
This is probably the kind of information which wouldn’t result in major change of behaviour. But, here goes- studies show that when drivers-especially young drivers drove their car listening to their favourite music, they made more mistakes and were more aggressive with their driving. It was also found that the “safe” music for driving is the kind that engages you the least. Told you this probably won’t change your behaviour.
4. It can bolster your immune system
This facet of music owes its property of affecting your body on multiple levels. To begin with, music reduces the cortisol levels in your brain-cortisol is the chemical which makes you feel stressful. Genres like jazz, bluegrass and soft rock are found to be effective in brining down the cortisol level. Another effect of music is that it helps your body create more number of antibodies that will help fight a disease.
5. Music training significantly improves your reasoning skills
It’s been found that children with three years or more worth of musical instrument training have much better auditory discrimination abilities and motor skills compared to others.
6. Music can help you kick drug addiction
Drugs generally affect the neurotransmitters- the information carrying chemicals in your brain. Music also affects these same chemicals but in a different way. Whereas drugs make your brain lazy in producing the chemicals- since you are injecting them into the system, music can actually increase the levels of some of the chemicals like norepinephrine and dopamine. Also, certain types of music can help lower blood pressure and muscle tension-things if they are high would make you restless and could make you resort to chemicals.
7. Helps bring back lost memories
I remember at least two movies I have seen in which a piece of music restores the memory of a patient and he would go seeking revenge since he now remembers what the villain did to his family. And of course, all of those instances were laugh-worthy. But the protracted plot point does have some semblance to reality(the keyword here being ‘some’). Medical researchers have found that music possesses the potential to bring back certain memories in patients who are even in the latter stages of dementia.
Music engages the hippocampus- the part of the brain which is associated with long-term memories. So, if you have suffered memory loss and you listen to music which you have heard and liked before- there’s a chance that along with emotions that the music evokes, it could also bring back the memories associated with the music. And even if the memories aren’t unlocked, you will derive the same emotions from the music as in your earlier days, helping you become emotionally more like the person you were before the loss of memory.
8. Music can help prevent seizures
There are those who are super-sensitive to loud noises in whom certain types of music could actually bring a seizure on. But, decreased seizure activity due to listening to music has been observed even in coma patients. Mostly, it’s piano music that seems to have the strongest connection with our brain in this regard. For instance, the music of Mozart played on piano reduces seizure-inducing activities in the brain- and that too within just five minutes of exposure. The exact way in which Mozart’s music brings about this change in the brain, as yet remains unexplained by science.
One cool thing about the internet is the amazing volume of music that it has opened up for your consumption. With live streaming to downloads and podcasts, the net has become the quintessential place to explore one of the most enigmatic artforms humans have ever created. It’s valid to consider research into music and how it affects us as still being in a nascent stage. But as the list above shows, what we have found so far is promising. Meaning, there’s no reason for you to stop exploring the tunes of the world!
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