10 Unusual Ways Music can Tune up the Brain

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Everybody loves music, all types of music, there’s a musical style for everyone. Did you know, however, that besides bringing us pleasure, music can tell a lot about us? It can even shape our brain structure. Science has a lot to learn about how our brains and bodies respond to music but there are a few things we do know.  Since music is such a huge part of our daily lives, you might want to take a minute to take a look at the 10 ways we react to music, and how it affects our brain, without our being aware of it.


1. Music can uncover our lost memories

If you didn’t know it already, music can bring back memories we thought we had forgotten about. Some researchers are suggesting that music could be used as a treatment for those with memory problems.  A recent study showed that for those who had memory problems after sustaining serious brain injuries, music allowed them bring back old memories.

In a study that was published in 2013 in the journal Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, it was discovered that playing hit songs from different periods was better than an interview at making people bring up memories from the past.

For those with Alzheimer’s or dementia, music can bring back memory better than any medication. Sometimes the effects can be so dramatic that researchers called it an “awakening” for patients who had previously been mentally “unconscious.”


2. Musical training teaches people to be better emotion detectors

In 2009, a study published in the European Journal of Neuroscience, 30 subjects watched a nature film with subtitles and listened to a short audio clip of a baby crying. Researchers looked the brain waves from these subjects to measure just how sensitive these people were to the sound and whether or not the emotional circuits of their brains responded.

Those who were musicians responded much more accurately and quickly than the brains of non-musicians. This study suggests that musicians may be better at detecting emotions, even when music is not being played.


SEE ALSO: 10 Magical Benefits of Music

3.  Ambient noise can improve your creativity

Everyone knows that playing our favorite tunes helps our workday go faster. However, when it comes to doing some creative work, loud music isn’t the best way to go.

If you want to do your best creative work, turn down those tunes. In fact, you might want to consider changing those tunes for an ambient noise, also called white noise, such as the sound of fans, running water, or rain. Ambient noise increases the abstract processing in our brains, which leads to more creativity.

In areas with high noise levels, our brains creative thinking is severely impaired because our heads are just overwhelmed and our minds can’t process data efficiently.


4. Music choices can predict personality

Well, this one really has to be taken with a grain of salt because the study was done only with young adults, but it’s still a fascinating thing to consider.

This study using couples who spent some time to get to know one another, when they looked at the other person’s top 10 all-time favorite songs, it provided a super reliable prediction about the listener’s personality.

A snapshot of your style of music and the connection this study showed:

v  Jazz Lovers: high self-esteem, easy going yet outgoing

v  Classical Music Lovers: high self-esteem, introverted, and creative

v  Opera Lovers: high self-esteem, creative, and gentle

v  Country Western Lovers: outgoing and hardworking

v  Rock/Heavy Metal Lovers: low self-esteem, creative, not outgoing nor hardworking but they are gentle

v  Pop (top 10) Lovers: high self-esteem, hardworking, outgoing, gentle but are not creative

v  Indie Lovers: low self-esteem, creative, but not gentle nor hardworking

Of course, this is a broad generalization, but this study is very interesting.


5. Music helps us exercise

Well, this isn’t much of a surprise. Research has been doing studies on the effect of music while exercising for many years. As far back as 1911, researchers found that cyclists pedal faster while listening to music as opposed to pedaling in silence. This is because music can “drown out” our bodies complaining that they are tired.

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Baby Learning To Play Piano With Mother

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6. Block out the noise

As we age, our brain becomes less able to block out annoying background noise. However, those with musical training are generally better at hearing and understanding sounds in a noisy location as they age.

A study published in 2013 found that even if people only took a few music lessons in childhood, they still had some of those long lasting effects in their brains when it came to detecting sounds with a noisy background. This study was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.


READ ALSO: 10 Things Happy People Understand

7.  Learn another language through singing

You might have better luck learning a new language if try to learn while singing the words. Researchers discovered that, when learning a new language, singing phrases and words helped people learn the language faster, compared to those who only read the sentences.


8. Music affects how we see neutral faces

Our brains respond very differently to sad or upbeat music. Even if it’s a very short piece of music, depending on the style, it affects our brain. One study found that, after hearing just a short piece of music, the subjects were more likely to state that a neutral expression was happy or sad; whatever matched the tone of the song they heard. Sad songs resulted in subjects saying that the person’s face was sad and happy music that the face was happy.


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9. Music seriously distracts us while driving

One study involved teenagers and young adults and focused on how their driving was affected by playing music. Researchers used silence, “safe” music choices, and the drivers own personal choice of music. This study showed conclusively that drivers made more mistakes as well as drove much more aggressively, when they were listening to the music of their choice. The best choice for safe driving seems to be unfamiliar or at least uninteresting music.


10. Classical music improves our visual attention

It’s more than just children who benefit from musical training, stroke patients in a small study showed dramatically improved visual attention when they listened to classical music.

This study also used white noise as well as silence, and it showed the silence resulted in the worst scores. This was a very small study but it’s very interesting to note how music and noise can have dramatic effects on our abilities and our other senses.