Effects Of Music On The Brain


JF-Expert Member
Feb 9, 2007
It has long been obvious that music affects people profoundly. What is new, though, is that research is being conducted to determine the effects of music on the brain. Through this research much has been learned about the effects of music on brain function.

It has been shown over and over again that one of the strongest effects of music on the brain is in the area of memory. Students of foreign languages were shown to be able to learn hundreds of vocabulary items in one day when listening to appropriate music. What is more, they remembered the words over time at a level of 92% retention. This feat was accomplished with the use of baroque classical music. The tempo was the most successful at a steady rate of 60 beats per minute. At this tempo, people seemed to remember the most. This was one of the interesting effects of music on the brain.
[h=2]Music and Testing[/h]In one study, data was analyzed as to the benefits of listening to music of different genres (classical or jazz) and tempos. Results did not differ that much from one type of music to the next. However, when the tempo was changed from learning time to testing time, the test results suffered. It seems that people recall information much better when music is played at the same speed as when they originally learned it.
There was a study conducted to test the effects of music on the brains of college students. This study looked at the effects of listening to Mozart before taking an IQ test. Among three groups, one listening to relaxation tapes and one listening to nothing, the group listening to Mozart had the highest average score.
[h=2]Music and Brain Disease[/h]Alzheimer's patients have also been shown to benefit mentally from listening to music. Listening to music triggered certain memories to be recalled that had been otherwise forgotten. Parkinson's patients also benefitted from the effects of music on the brain. Motor skills seemed to improve when some patients were better able to walk while music was being played.
[h=2]Negative Effects[/h]Not all the effects of music on the brain are positive however. Some types of music can cause the brain to lose it's symmetry between it's right and left halves, or hemispheres. We've all experienced this, when trying to concentrate on a task while loud or otherwise disruptive music is being played. Ask any teacher and they'll tell you that this can lead to learning disabilities and behavior disruptions in children. It can likewise generate diminished work capabilities in adults.
The types of music that cause these effects on the brain are mostly agressive forms of music such as heavy rock or rap. The specific type of beat may be at fault. It could also be attributed to the fact that too much repetition leads to feelings of anger and hostility.
To achieve positive effects of music on the brain, music must have certain attributes. It needs to be fairly complex to involve more of the brain in the activity and keep the person interested. New and different music is another factor that keeps the brain active and not bored.

SOURCE: Effects Music Brain
  1. [h=3]Music Improves Brain:For most people music is an enjoyable, although momentary, form of entertainment. But for those who seriously practiced a musical instrument when they were young, perhaps when they played in a school orchestra or even a rock band, the musical experience can be something more. Recent research shows that a strong correlation exists between musical training for children and certain other mental abilities:Our Brain Enjoys More When Music is Played Live by a Musician rather than a Computer:According to the study performed by the University of Sussex, music can calm much better if it is played by real musicians rather than computers. Neuroscientists analyzed the reaction of the brain to the piano sonatas, which were played by a musician and a computer. They discovered that, though computerized music did get some response from the brain – mainly to unpredicted changes of the chords – the effect was not as strong as the response to the same melody played by a professional pianist.Dr. Stefan Koelsch, a senior research fellow in psychology, was the one to lead the research, being supported by his colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, located in Leipzig. The scientists played a number of extracts from classical piano sonatas to 20 people, who were not professional musicians, and made records of the brain responses, as well as reactions of the skin conductance, which fluctuate with sweat production as a result of emotional reaction.
    Despite the fact that the participants did not have any experience in playing musical instruments and considered themselves to be unmusical, their brains had a clear reaction to musical changes (including unexpected chords and modifications in tonal key). Such reactions show that the brain was able to understand musical grammar. The reaction of the brain was much sharper when the classical piano sonatas were played by professional musicians.
    "It was interesting for us that the emotional reactions to the unexpected chords were stronger when played with musical expression. This shows us how musicians can enhance the emotional response to particular chords due to their performance, and it shows us how our brains react to the performance of other individuals," mentioned Dr. Koelsch.
    During the study the researchers were also able to discover that when a classic composition was played by a real musician, human brain was more likely to search for musical meaning.
    "This is similar to the response we see when the brain is responding to language and working out what the words mean. Our results suggest that musicians actually tell us something when they play. The brain responses show that when a pianist plays a piece with emotional expression, the piece is actually perceived as meaningful by listeners, even if they have
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