Contrary to popular views, music is really more than just a pleasure to listen to. It also nurtures our spirit. Whether you love the rousing tunes of Lady Gaga or the fast raps of Jay-Z, you will rejoice that music has a profound effect on the brain. Here are a few sensational effects on the mind that you can expect if you just listen to your favorite music.
Music strengthens your memory
Do you always forget where you have deposited your keys? Memory loss can be a sign of aging, but you do not have to let your life ruin it. Give your memory a boost by listening to your favorite songs.
But how does music strengthen your memory? According to experts, music can stimulate many areas of the brain – including the hippocampus, the area that drives the long-term memory.
Music increases your spatial insight
Spatial insight is defined as the ability to make a precise representation of something and to measure and navigate the ability. One of the ‘nine types of intelligence’ is its characteristic: the talent to recreate a visual experience.
With the help of music – especially piano music – you can boost your IQ for spatial insight by up to 9 points. A symphony by Mozart, for example, makes this possible because music improves the focus of the listener.
Music reduces anxiety and nerves
Is there an important job interview on the agenda? Should you soon undergo a life-changing surgery? Whatever worries you have, you will experience mental stress. Then listening to music – as opposed to taking that expensive sedative pill – is a cheap and side-effect free way to say goodbye to your fear.
A study published in Trends in Cognitive Sciences showed that patients who listened to music – instead of taking their usual antidepressants – had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Music restores brain damage
Are you the unfortunate victim of a stroke or other brain disorder? Then you will be glad that music can help with the recovery.
Music helps especially in victims of injury to the left hemisphere, with symptoms such as the inability to speak. Therapists even treat such patients with a program called ‘Melodic Intonation’. This encourages the patient to sing until he can talk again. Music would repair the damaged parts – which are related to language – because music helps the mind to link melodies to language utterances.
Apart from this benefit, music also provides for the release of dopamine, a ‘happiness hormone’ that improves your brain function. This is especially beneficial for people with a major brain injury.
Music reduces epileptic seizures
If you are one of the unfortunate sufferers of epilepsy, with physical phenomena resulting from abnormal electrical activity of the brain, you can even get rid of it by listening to music.
According to research, calming sounds – especially Mozart’s piano masterpieces – can make a huge contribution to reducing signals that trigger an attack after five minutes. In an experiment in 1998, the effect of the music on the cerebral cortex was so great that in 23 of the 29 cases it brought about an enormous decrease in epileptic activity. The dramatic results of the experiment are published in ‘Mozart Effect on Epileptiform Activity’.
Studies show that listening to music in the background before performing a task really helps to improve your cognitive functions – such as memory and attention – by increasing your vigilance and improving your mood. And it does not seem to matter whether you like the music or not, but it seems to be that instrumental music helps better than vocal music. Vocal music (with text), leads a lot and can detract from your focus, memory and attention, especially when the sound is loud.