Wednesday, July 03, 2024

Have you ever wondered how music effects the brain?

​With benefits such as improving memory, boosting mood and emotional well-being, and even helping the brain reduce stress, these results can positively impact cognitive and emotional health. Often referred to as the 'universal language', music is present in every culture and society throughout history. Johns Hopkins Medicine published this article stating that, "If you want to exercise your brain, listen to music.​There are few things that stimulate the brain the way music does. If you want to keep your brain engaged throughout the aging process, listening to or playing music is a great tool. It provides a total brain workout."

Not only listening to music has a positive impact on the brain, but when we play music our cognitive development also benefits. Abilities such as memory, attention, problem-solving skills, motor function, calculation, sound, and more are strengthened. Playing an instrument requires coordination, timing, and memory, which all contribute to cognitive development.

Music engages nearly every part of the brain and even has the power to impact our emotional state. This is likely something you've experienced as you've felt your mood change along with the type of music you listen to. Relaxing music lowers cortisol levels, the body's main stress hormone, and can calm the listener while reducing stress and anxiety. This discovery is utilized in methods referred to as 'Music Therapy' and is described in this article by UCLA Health and is describes as "a specialty that uses research-based musical techniques to improve your physical, mental and emotional well-being." This particular form of therapy is used in many clinical settings and is a powerful tool, often calming patients suffering from dementia and sometimes helping them remember specific moments. Music also has the power to recall memories and emotions, both positive and negative. While possibly therapeutic, there can also be adverse results if these memories trigger overwhelming or traumatic experiences, which can lead to mental health struggles. 

Of course, other types of music have different impacts in contrast to the soothing cadence of a calming tune. Upbeat music can have the opposite effect, boosting our mood and making us feel more energized as dopamine is released from the brain. Dopamine is the "feel-good" chemical that let's us know we are feeling motivated and energetic, which is why fast-paced music can be helpful while working out or accomplishing tasks, even increasing productivity. However, music can also distract and over-stimulate, diminishing the ability to focus or concentrate. A fast beat or high volume even has the potential to disrupt sleep patterns and interfere with the brain's efforts to relax, negatively impacting sleep quality, so if you're prone to listen to music before bedtime, it's essential to make selections thoughtfully. Pay attention to the volume, as this can lead to hearing loss, as explained here by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

When we understand how music affects the brain, we are able to implement it in our efforts to enhance brain health. With perks like strengthening memory, improving mood, and reducing stress, what's stopping you from incorporating the powerful tool of music into your daily routine? Whether you're just beginning your journey toward improved cognitive health or you've been on the path for a while, we at A Mind For All Seasons encourage you to utilize music in your desire to promote a stronger brain and a well-balanced life. 


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