Picture this: you wake up for school or work and roll out of bed. You immediately start thinking about everything you have to accomplish that day. However, you turn on your favorite playlist, crank up the volume, and everything else fades into the background.
First up on your morning shower musical roster: “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey. Next up, another favorite: “Renegade” by Styx. Now the performance just kicked up a notch as you belt out the tunes into your shampoo bottle microphone! You feel like you are on top of the world!
After your stunning performance, you finish getting ready and head into work. Arriving at your desk, you settle in to focus on that big project with the looming deadline. Now it’s time for some music to help you focus. You turn on instrumental or piano music, instantly enter hyper-focus mode, and crank out your best work!
Why did your music choice have these varying effects on you?
It doesn’t matter what kind of music you prefer to listen to. Music creates a channel of communication that can affect the listener both on the surface and also physiologically.
Upbeat music inspires individuals to move their bodies through dancing (don’t worry, we aren’t judging your dance moves). Exercise definitely leads to significant improvements in cardiovascular function.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, relaxing music is a vasodilator. Vasodilation allows blood to move through your body easily. There may be a correlation between soothing music and other heart benefits. These can include a reduction in heart rate, respiration rate, blood pressure, and improved circulation overall.
Music energizes the body. If you’ve ever cranked the volume up when a good song comes on, you’ve experienced that firsthand. Listening to relaxing music while engaging in a repetitive task reduces fatigue and maintains muscle endurance.
Fitness enthusiasts are well aware that music reduces your awareness of exertion. It may even lead to longer workouts, all because you are enjoying the tunes! Syncing the music to your training also benefits the body because oxygen intake is more effective.
Runners will frequently run to music that matches their goal tempo. The beat of the music acts as a metronome for the body.
Listening to your favorite music can help to relieve your stress. Music reduces the stress hormone cortisol and increases the number of endorphins in your bloodstream.
Endorphins are a type of neurotransmitter that your brain sends to the rest of your body, indicating that you feel good. Your brain releases these to prevent the nerve cells from receiving pain signals.
Several studies have also found that endorphins can improve confidence levels, which leads to better self-esteem. That’s why you feel like you are on top of the world when your favorite song comes on!
Music can connect listeners individually and affect cognitive function in the brain. Scientists observed that listening to music activates different parts of the brain. Active areas of the brain lit up during MRI scans.
Listening to music can make you want to learn more. Songs without lyrics perform best in this category. The music’s tempo and intensity affect the learning outcome.
Music can improve a person’s ability to memorize. Individuals listening to classical music while performing a task outperform someone working in silence. For example, children commonly listen to Mozart to help increase their cognitive function.
Music can’t reverse memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, but it does slow cognitive decline in older adults. Caregivers often experience success with calming dementia patients with music. Music memory is one of the brain functions that is most resistant to the disease.
Creating and listening to music releases dopamine, a chemical in the brain that boosts motivation and engagement. Increased dopamine levels have a positive effect on your mood and overall mental health. This can lead to a decrease in the symptoms of depression.
What memories or people influence your taste in music?
Have you ever had a song stuck in your head? This occurrence is commonly known as an earworm or brainworm. The scientific community defines it as involuntary musical imagery or stuck song syndrome. Earworms often happen to people that are around music constantly.
Researchers aren’t exactly sure what causes an earworm. They have looked at specific characteristics of individuals who frequently experience earworms. Research has shown that this phenomenon may relate to the size and shape of someone’s brain.
People who get earworms generally have a larger Heschl’s Gyrus. The Heschl’s Gyrus is the part of the brain that handles hearing and remembering music. The right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), which is associated with pitch memory, is another affected area.
How do you get rid of an earworm? The solution might shock you – chew gum. Chewing gum interrupts your brain’s voluntary memory recollection.
So the next time you can’t get the song “Barbie Girl” out of your head, you know what to do. Just admire the size of your brain and grab a piece of bubble gum.