Music is more complex and beautiful than one can ever imagine, and it can physically affect your body when listening to it. It doesn’t just alter your physiology, but it can cure emotional distress, amplify moods, and even help treat diseases as well. It is one of the few activities that involves using the majority, and sometimes whole, of your brain. Moreover, it doesn’t discriminate to culture, and has surprising benefits.
The chills and shivers you get when listening to a song you really like are actually caused by the release of dopamine in your body. Scientists ran experiments by monitoring brain activity and found that music caused dopamine peaks and emotional arousal. This release of dopamine is connected to why people place such a high emphasis on music’s ability to manipulate our emotions. Music can quite literally alter the chemical balances in your brain.
The effect of music is so powerful, it doesn’t only affect your dopamine levels, but your heartbeat as well. Our body reacts to the sounds we hear: if a person is listening to hardstyle or psy trance, their heartbeat will involuntarily speed up; if they are listening to minimal house, their body relaxes accordingly.
Some studies are suggesting that music is as addictive as sex and drugs. The researchers found the release of dopamine both in anticipation of the music, and in hearing the music much like the effects of drug withdrawal and fixes. Ever had that itchy feeling when you can’t wait to hear a song because your phone is dead, and when you finally hear it, you feel a wave of pleasure just wash over you? That’s all chemicals working in your brain.
Many doctors are now prescribing music to help treat patients with diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and people with anxiety and depression. It was found that it can help overcome bradykinesia (difficulty initiating movement, often coupled with Parkinson’s) by stimulating brain neurons to translate the music into movement, and allowing patients to retain control of their bodies. It has also been found to help restore the loss of language in patients with aphasia (impaired speech) that results after severe head trauma or strokes.
Music has been found to have overall positive effects on pain management. It can reduce chronic pain like arthritis by about 21%, and depression over to 25%, according to studies found in the UK Journal of Advanced Nursing. Music therapy is being increasingly used in hospitals instead of medication during childbirth to decrease postoperative pain and complement the use of anesthesia during surgery.
As a fatigue fighter, dance music can be a great way to find some extra energy. It can effectively eliminate exercise-induced fatigue and fatigue symptoms caused by monotonous work. A report in the Journal of Neuroscience of Behavior and Physiology concluded that a person’s ability to recognize images, including letters and numbers, is faster when music is playing in the background.
Listening to happy or sad music can affect how you interpret a neutral facial expression. Studies showed that after hearing a short piece of music, participants were more likely to match the perceived facial expression with the tone of music. Moreover, we can understand the emotions of a piece of music without actually feeling them, which explains why some of us find sad music enjoyable, instead of depressing.
SOURCE: El-Asmar, T. (2018) EDM.com
Music Psychology Research (MPR)
Psychological Assessment and Research Evaluation (PARE) Consultancy