If the scope of research on the physiological and physiological impacts
of music is any indication, much is known — and yet unknown — about how
music affects the human mind and body. “By better understanding what
music is and where it comes from, we may be able to better understand
our motives, fears, desires, memories, and even communication in the
broadest sense,” according to neuroscientist, musician and author Dr.
Daniel J. Levitin in his 2006 book This Is Your Brain on Music.
|This Is Your Brain on Music: |
The Science of a Human Obsession
Levitin asks, “Is music listening more along the lines of eating when you’re hungry, and thus satisfying an urge? Or is it more like seeing a beautiful sunset or getting a backrub, which triggers sensory pleasure systems in the brain?” The truth is that the experience of listening to music is wildly variant. Yet, in recent years, scientists have made huge advances in understanding how the human brain processes music and how sound affects not just the mind by the body at large.
Here are just a few things science has made clear:
Music can actually make you smarter. It’s no secret that music has a serious impact on a person’s brain activity — whether that’s how it engages different parts of the brain, how humans memorize tunes and lyrics or how different types of melodies and rhythms can illicit different emotional responses. It’s even been reported that ambient noise, played at a moderate volume, can encourage creativity, and that listening to music can help repair brain damage.
Yet the news is even better for musicians, particularly those who begin playing an instrument at an early age. According to some studies, music learning can encourage the development of stronger vocabularies and a better handle on nonverbal reasoning. Speaking to News in Health, Harvard Medical School neuroscientist Dr. Gottfried Schlaug even says that the nerve makeup of musicians differs from nonmusicians, citing studies that musicians’ minds have more bundles of nerves bridging the left side of the braid to the right.
“When you make music, it engages many different areas of the brain, including visual, auditory and motor areas,” Schlaug told News in Health. “That’s why music-making is also of potential interest in treating neurologic disorders.”
After conducting a survey of 44 participants, “The results revealed that the sad music was perceived to be more tragic, whereas the actual experiences of the participants listening to the sad music induced them to feel more romantic, more blithe, and less tragic emotions than they actually perceived with respect to the same music,” reads the study. “Thus, the participants experienced ambivalent emotions when they listened to the sad music.”
Source: Yahoo Health