You are on page 1of 8

Jeremy Gilley Professor Thomas English 1102 6 March 2014

This paper has been a major struggle for me. I found a lot of good information about the brain with music, but people are still trying to figure out the effects of it, and there is not a whole lot of content on the topic. It took a lot of research for this topic, and I had to use several different sources for my paper. This topic was interesting to me, and I really learned a lot about how music correlates with the brain, and the positive and negative effects of it. Research has really taken off in the last decade or so, because we can take pictures of our brains and be able to analyze what is going on as we listen to music. I feel as if my paper has several interesting parts to it, and will really draw the readers attention. It was tough to write at first, but I was able to manage to find a lot of good information and write about my results. How Music Affects the Brain Music affecting the brain is something that has taken off in the last decade or so . We are now able to see pictures of the brain, which has helped significantly. Music stimulates various parts of the brain making it a very effective therapeutic or moodaltering tool. There have been studies shown that music can be used as a sort of pain killer to help ease patients with the pain they are feeling. In conducting research from

many sources, I have found that different parts of the brain are active when we listen to music, and that the music we are listening to can have positive and negative effects on us. One part of the brain that is active while we are listening to music is spatial reasoning. Spatial reasoning determines how well we can manipulate 3D objects, and this determines how well our visual and perceptual abilities are. However, this effect has been proven to go away after about 15 minutes when the music has stopped. Music is also a good way of reducing stress, which is good for the health of the individual . Just the right soothing music decreases stress, including lowering the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Listening to music has many different benefits. Music is a common theme for people trying to work out or exercise. Listening to music helps people get through the workout, and they are less likely to give up on the task they are trying to complete. It serves as a point of focus and takes your mind off the aches and pains of your muscles. These are just some of the many health benefits that music can have on us. Music can affect our emotion, improve creativity, and can significantly improve our motor and reasoning skills. Friedrich Nietzsche once said Life without music would be a mistake. I agree with this completely because just imagine what our lives would be like without music. Every day at some point I am listening to music. I believe without music some people would be lost. Music can make someone happy, sad, mad, excited, and several other emotions. A moderate noise level of music has been shown to really

get our creative minds going and lead to a higher creative level . Music can change our anxiety level and be a real positive thing. Patterns of brain activity can also be determined to tell whether or not we like a particular song. Daniel Levitin, a prominent psychologist who studies the neuroscience of music at McGill University in Montreal, says were using music to help better understand brain function in general. Levitin also goes on to say that from the prospective of the brain, there might be more similarities among music listeners than you would think. No matter what differences some people may have, people who listen to the same music have a lot of the same synchronization in key brain areas. A lot more is going on in our brain than just merely processing sound. Studies with music and our brain have become so popular and neuroscientists are striving to come up with more and more information about this correlation. From the aspects of neuroscience, listening to music is one of the most complex things you can do. Many parts of your brain have to work together, even if it is just a simple tune. The auditory cortex is an important part in processing the sound of music. Music is very active in the right hemisphere part of the brain but it is also somewhat active in the left hemisphere, just maybe not as much . It is also possible that a persons particular brain chemistry can affect his or her appreciation of a song . Songs as well can trigger emotional responses out of us as well. Brain imaging studies have shown that happy music stimulates the reward centers of the brain, causing the production of the chemical dopamine. This is the same emotion we feel when eating great food .

Researchers have also found that young infants as old as five months can pick up whether there is a happy song playing. Researchers, at Brigham Young University, have also found that by the time the infants get to nine months they can discover whether or not the song is a happy tune or a sad one. Music training at a young age helps strengthen the brain especially language skills and executive function. Gottfried Schlaug MD, PHD from Harvard medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess medical center, talked about musical training by saying it has the potential to change brain function and structure when done over a long period of time. People who grew up playing an instrument have been studied to have a faster speech response than someone who has never played a musical instrument. There is a lot of research showing that musical training has various cognitive benefits, such as better working memory, pitch discrimination performance, and selective attention . Music training can change the structure of the brains cortex, and could lead to cognitive advances. Music training leads to more than just the satisfaction of enjoying music. Music therapy has not only been shown to help deal with pain, but has helped some patients out in treating various diseases. There are many positive affects with music and the brain, but there are also some negative effects. For example, if you are trying to do homework and the music is not at a moderate noise level, you will just get distracted and it will take away your concentration. Sometimes the type of song you are listening to can bring up a bad memory, or put you in a depressing mood. Also when you listen to loud and heavy

music it can cause and increase in blood pressure which would be harmful to you . Music is one of the unique things that everybody has a personal preference of and rarely does more than one person have the same favorite particular song. Also, when our brain processes a certain type of song we can feel one of two emotions, perceived emotions and felt emotions. Sometimes we can understand the emotions of a certain type of music without actually feeling them. This is why sometimes a person can actually enjoy listening to sad music and not feel sad. This happens when we just perceive the music instead of actually feeling it. The different areas our brain is affected by music are the Corpus Callosum, Motor Cortex, Prefrontal Cortex, Nucleus Accumbens, Amygdala, Sensory Cortex, Auditory Cortex, Hippocampus, Visual Cortex, and the Cerebellum . Each of these do something different that involves music. For example, the Visual Cortex is used for reading music or looking at a performers music, while the Hippocampus is used for memory of music and our musical experiences. Our Amygdala and Nucleus Accumbens are our emotional reactions to music. When we are playing an instrument we are using our Motor Cortex the most. When we analyze a certain type of music we are using our auditory cortex. Our Cerebellum can do a lot, it is involved with our emotions to music, when we play an instrument, and also things like dancing or tap dancing to music. Our Prefrontal Cortex controls our expectations of music and our satisfaction of those expectations. Our Corpus Callosum is what controls our left and right hemispheres of our brain.

Emotion is probably what music affects the most. It helps deal with depression and anxiety, and is a way of comforting us. I listen to almost any type of music, I do not have much of a preference when it comes to most genres . The only music that I find usually not to my liking would be some country song and heavy metal, or real dark music. If I just want to sit down and think, I will listen to something slow that will help me relax. If I am working out I will listen to something upbeat that pumps me up, and helps me not think about the ache of my muscles. I enjoy bands that sing about positive things and songs that help motivate me to do something. Some people can hear a song, and it will change their life. It makes them feel like they are meant to do something. This comes from our Auditory Cortex, and also our Amygdala because of our emotional reaction to the music. People with mental disorders rely on music very heavily. One second they could be jerking around, swinging their arms, going crazy, and the next perfectly still just humming to the beat of a song. People say music can be as powerful as any drug. It has to be the right type of music of course, or the patient could overreact and get scared by the unknown music playing. It is deeply therapeutic for people with frontal lobe syndromes or autism. Some people can have severe cognitive and visual deficiencies but be musically gifted. From my research on this topic, I feel that a certain amount of music is essential for growth of an individual. It improves visual skills and motor reasoning skills, as well

as creativity. It is good for ones health and well-being. It is a natural pain killer, and helps with anxiety problems. After researching my inquiry question, I have found that it has led me to even more questions. For starters, is there a certain type of genre in music that is better for your brain than another specific type of genre? Also how does your brain adapt to the liking of a new type of music? These are just questions for me to further my knowledge on my topic. In my opinion, music is best served as a way of calming us down or as a therapeutic tool. Research indicates this very true, Music is used commonly for people with illnesses or depression. I was able to learn that classical music can help kids to young adults, to even people in their late 70s with visual attention. Music and noise can have a big effect on our senses and abilities . In conclusion, I have found that music and its effect on the brain to be very important. It effects many different parts of the brain and its functions. It affects our emotions, as well as cognitive abilities, and abstract abilities. More music training we are in when we are younger, like playing an instrument, can increase our motor cortex and reasoning skills. Brain waves can be looked at to determine whether we are enjoying a song or do not appreciate it. Music is very healthy and really helps develop various parts of your brain, and is a really positive thing when it comes to effecting your brain.

Works Cited Wilkins, Alasdair. "What Happens to Your Brain under the Influence of Music." Io9. Io9.com, 7 Sept. 2011. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. Unknown. "Music and the Brain." Music and the Brain. Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center, 25 Mar. 2011. Web. 18 Mar. 2014. Mohana, Malini. "Music and How It Impacts Your Brain, Emotions." Psychcentral.com. Psychcental, 27 July 20 Brooks, Megan. "Medscape Log In." Medscape Log In. Medscape, 18 Nov. 2013. Web. 18 Mar. 2014.