Category Effects Of Music On Humans

Does Music Influence Our Behavior?

Music can affect how we behave, often without us noticing. A while ago it was even in the news that certain types of music, such as hardhouse and heavy metal, would cause criminal behavior. This later turned out to be a misunderstanding : the researchers discovered that young people with a certain taste in music are on average slightly more likely to engage in criminal activities, but that does not mean that music is the cause of that criminal behaviour.

Still, to some degree, music influences what we do. Marketing agencies are making a huge study of how music can influence the purchasing behavior of consumers. If a store plays background music that matches the image of the business, customers are more likely to buy something. And also in catering establishments, the music is often carefully selected, everything to ensure that the consumer feels at ease. 

But also to achieve the opposite effect – scaring people away – music can be very useful. Around some schools and train stations, annoying music should cause loiterers to seek refuge elsewhere.

Does Music Make You Smarter?

Music lessons are good for brain development, we know from research. In children who learn to play a musical instrument, the connection between the left and right hemispheres is strengthened. This allows the hemispheres of the brain to communicate better with each other during their development, which is important, for example, for coordinating behavior and emotions.

Moreover, young people who play a musical instrument have stronger connections between different language areas in the brain. This allows them to better distinguish the subtle sound differences of spoken language from each other. Making music therefore stimulates language skills . 

The positive effects of making music do not only apply to children and young people, adults also benefit greatly from making music. For example, people who regularly play an instrument are more creative than others. And who takes music lessons at a later age trains his prefrontal cortex and keeps his memory and problem-solving ability up to date. 

You also sometimes hear that listening to classical music strengthens your cognitive functions. It would even give you a higher IQ, a study from 1993 suggests. But, unfortunately for all enthusiasts: after further research, it appears that the so-called Mozart effect does not exist after all . If you want to become smarter, it is therefore better to make music yourself instead of listening to it.

Music therapy can also offer a solution for people with, for example, autism, war trauma or an intellectual disability. This form of therapy is sometimes still laughed at, but many people benefit from it. Music can often find a way around the brain, explains Jaschke. “If the connection between brain areas A and B is no longer so good, the music still manages to find a way somewhere.” 

Dimo has autism and loves music. Music therapy helps him make better contact. 

This shortcut in the brain also works for many people with memory problems, such as dementia. Where they sometimes do not or hardly succeed in talking, singing is often still effortless. Singer Maartje de Lint therefore sings together with people with dementia and their loved ones or carers.

Concert

Still, to some degree, music influences what we do. Marketing agencies are making a huge study of how music can influence the purchasing behavior of consumers. If a store plays background music that matches the image of the business, customers are more likely to buy something. And also in catering establishments, the music is often carefully selected, everything to ensure that the consumer feels at ease. 

But also to achieve the opposite effect – scaring people away – music can be very useful. Around some schools and train stations, annoying music should cause loiterers to seek refuge elsewhere.

What Does Music Do To Us?

Music has a huge impact on our brains, emotions and behaviour. It activates our brain and can even ease physical pain. How can we apply these effects in healthcare? And does music make us smarter?

What Happens In Your Brain When You Listen To Music?

One loves Bach, the other prefers to go wild on house or rap. Everyone has their own preference, but music leaves few people cold. It makes you happy, or on the contrary, makes you feel like dancing. How come these sounds can enchant us so much? 

Music activates the entire brain, says neuropsychologist Erik Scherder. When we listen to music, all kinds of different brain areas become active at the same time. For example, music stimulates the motor areas, which provide that irresistible urge to dance.

Areas of the brain that deal with emotion are also activated by music. It is therefore not surprising that a piece of music can touch you in such a way. And if you listen to music you like, your brain produces dopamine, the same substance that is released when you eat something delicious or when you are in love. That in turn makes for a blissful feeling.

When we make music together, for example by singing together, our brain produces another fine substance: oxytocin. That ‘love hormone’ makes us feel connected to others. Music creates a feeling of togetherness.

Does Music Make You Smarter?

Music lessons are good for brain development, we know from research. In children who learn to play a musical instrument, the connection between the left and right hemispheres is strengthened. This allows the hemispheres of the brain to communicate better with each other during their development, which is important, for example, for coordinating behavior and emotions.

Music Enriches The Brain

Moreover, young people who play a musical instrument have stronger connections between different language areas in the brain. This allows them to better distinguish the subtle sound differences of spoken language from each other. Making music therefore stimulates language skills . 

How Can We Use Music In Healthcare?

Music has a healing effect: it can reduce stress and ease pain. This makes it potentially an effective, safe and inexpensive remedy for all kinds of complaints. The positive effects of music seem to already exist in very young patients. 

Music therapy can also offer a solution for people with, for example, autism, war trauma or an intellectual disability. This form of therapy is sometimes still laughed at, but many people benefit from it. Music can often find a way around the brain, explains Jaschke. “If the connection between brain areas A and B is no longer so good, the music still manages to find a way somewhere.” 

This shortcut in the brain also works for many people with memory problems, such as dementia. Where they sometimes do not or hardly succeed in talking, singing is often still effortless. Singer Maartje de Lint therefore sings together with people with dementia and their loved ones or carers.

Music In The Brain

Music has been the universal language of man throughout history. A single song is able to arouse feelings, move hearts and soothe thoughts. How does this happen in the brain?

Music has been the universal language of man throughout history. A single song is able to arouse feelings, move hearts and soothe thoughts. How does this happen in the brain?

My moods are as fickle as the Dutch weather—and for every emotion, from dizzying euphoria to gloomy sadness, I have a diverse selection of music to accompany this daily internal struggle. This universal link between music and emotion has long been widely accepted in both society and science. Much research into this focuses on what happens in the brain when you listen to music. We know that music elicits feelings and physiological responses that can be measured at the level of the molecule to the brain.

A recent study on the neurochemical underpinnings of music perception found that it involves activity in the same brain networks as food, drugs, and sexual satisfaction ( note : This does not mean that music is the same as sex and drugs). In these networks there is a lot of activity of dopamine and opiates that are produced naturally in your body. Natural opiates, produced in the brain and structurally similar to opiates like heroin, are crucial for experiencing both positive and negative emotions with music. These chemicals are also involved in the pleasure we experience when we eat sugary foods, or in activities such as sex and gambling.

But what about music triggers that emotional response? Psychologists suspect that a strong response to music can result from unexpected changes in musical aspects (eg, intensity and tempo) that increase tension and anticipation. A study of those musical aspects and emotional responses used electroencephalography (EEG) to record patterns in brain waves as subjects listened to different types of music. The researchers collected both subjective and physiological measures of the emotions experienced and found that a change in music was followed by a shift in asymmetric brain activity. In other words, brain activity in differentfrontal brain areas either increased or decreased to varying degrees during certain periods in the music (eg, start of a new motif, a change of instrument, changes in basic aspects such as pitch, dynamics or ‘texture’). This suggests that a change in music is a fundamental trigger of emotional responses while listening.

Other brain studies show that the right (non-dominant) hemisphere is important for appreciating various aspects of music. Brain damage leads to a reduction in the appreciation of pitch, timbre and rhythm. Another study demonstrated with positron emission tomography (PET) that especially the right hemisphere becomes active while listening to music; even if you imagine music instead of actually listening there is (partial) activation of those same brain areas. However, this should not be interpreted as evidence for simple left-right brain functionality (which is absolutely not the case)!

There is still much to discover about how a cleverly strung chain of nuts affects the brain. This complex and obscure link between ‘music & mind’ is currently used in various intervention therapies, from autism to depression, ADHD, and so on. The future of music in neuroscience is promising—imagine how we could use it even more if we knew just a little more.