By: Rajvi Khanjan Shroff
Pop some earbuds in, and suddenly all your worries melt away and you feel refreshed, upbeat, and more confident. We all enjoy listening to music. But have you ever wondered what is happening to your brain on music, and the benefits hearing those tunes provide? Let’s begin by analyzing what happens to some of the regions of the brain when that song starts.
When the notes first hit you, the hippocampus (CPU of the brain, involved in memory) and parts of the frontal lobe (used in thinking, decision-making and planning) have just been involved. Listening to music enhances the frontal lobe’s functions, and leads to production of new neurons in the hippocampus and a mind more receptive to memorization. You might even start to tap, sing, or dance along to music, which is also linked to the hippocampus as well as the cerebellum (regulates motor movements). Hence, activities related to coordination of movement also improves.
Then, dopamine, a chemical in your brain that is responsible for your emotions and movements, is triggered as you become one with the piece--explaining that rush you experience within the first few seconds of the start of music.
As you get further along into the song, you might notice yourself anticipating the next lyric or phrase. This sense of waiting for your favorite part can help you revise your past mistakes and help you move in the right direction.
While listening, you might remember a past experience or reexperience particular feelings. This has activated the amalgyda (involved in response and memory of emotions, especially fear). Because of the activity in the region, listening to music can actually help you control your fear!
The Nucleus Accumbens, a part of the reward circuit, is also involved while you listen to those notes. It has been shown that the activity in the brain while hearing music strongly modulates activity involved in reward processing, leading to a sense of satisfaction and happiness.
Who knew listening to music could provide such amazing gains? Studies have also shown that other rewards of listening to music include a boost to your immune system, make you a better communicator, make you stronger both physically and mentally, and help you manage your stress. How awesome is that? So not only does your brain functionality improve, you also subconsciously develop on valuable life skills by listening to music!
So the next time you hear your favorite tunes, just remember the amazing ways music helps you out in life!
Ashford University staff. “How Does Music Affect Your Brain?” Ashford University, 7 June 2017, www.ashford.edu/online-degrees/student-lifestyle/how-does-music-affect-your-brain.
Mavridis, Ioannis N. “Music and the Nucleus Accumbens.” Surgical and Radiologic Anatomy : SRA, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25102783.
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Dr. Lieff. “Music Stimulates Emotions Through Specific Brain Circuits.” Music Stimulates Emotions Through Specific Brain Circuits, 2 Mar. 2014, jonlieffmd.com/blog/music-stimulates-emotions-through-specific-brain-circuits.
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