What are the effects of music on our brain?
Music is an art that affects different areas of our brain and, consequently, affects our life and our way of being. We all enjoy listening to music regardless of our age, gender or culture, so we can affirm that its impact is global.
Happiness or sadness
Music does not affect us all in the same way, that is, we have a subjective perception of it. Still, we can identify if a piece of music has a happy or sad tone and our brain's reaction will change depending on it.
Even short pieces of happy or sad music can affect us. One study showed that after listening to a short piece of music, participants were more likely to interpret a facial expression of happiness or sadness that matched the tone of the music they were listening to.
Another really interesting aspect about how our emotions are affected by music are the two types of emotions related to music: perceived emotions and felt emotions.
And it is that sometimes we can understand the emotions of a piece of music without getting to feel the feeling that it wants to express. This explains why some of us find music sad, pleasant, rather than depressing, and instead the opposite happens to other people.
Our musical tastes can predict our personality
In a study, the ten favorite songs of each of the members of the different pairs that participated were analyzed and this allowed making fairly reliable predictions regarding the personality traits of the listener.
The study used five personality traits for the exam: openness to experience, extraversion, kindness, responsibility, and emotional stability. Interestingly, some traits were more accurately predicted based on some people's listening habits. For example, openness to experience, extraversion, and emotional stability were the easiest to guess correctly. Scrupulousness, on the other hand, was not an obvious characteristic based on musical taste.
For example, the study concluded that Blues music fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing, gentle and calm; jazz lovers also enjoy high self-esteem, they are creative, outgoing; Classical music fans respond to the same traits, but are more introverted; Rap fans have high self-esteem and are extroverts, unlike opera fans, who have high self-esteem and are creative. Finally, reggea fans tend to have high regard for themselves, to be sociable and kind to others.
Of course it is very difficult to generalize, but music affects our way of being and defines us.
Music can significantly distract us while driving (contrary to common belief).
Another study of teens and young adults focused on how their driving was affected by music. Drivers were tested while listening to their own music, and also driving in silence. As a result, it was concluded that listening to music is better for safe driving due to concentration and attention.
Music training can significantly improve motor and reasoning skills.
We generally assume that learning a musical instrument can be beneficial for children, but it is actually useful in more ways than we might expect. One study showed that children who had three or more years of musical training performed better than those who had not learned to play an instrument, especially in terms of auditory discrimination and fine motor skills.
The same group of children also performed better on vocabulary, verbal reasoning, and skills that involve understanding and analyzing visual information, such as identifying relationships, similarities, and differences between shapes and patterns.
These two areas in particular have little in common with music training, so it is fascinating to see how learning to play an instrument can help children develop a wide variety of important skills.
Classical music can improve visual attention
It is not only children who can benefit from musical training or sound listening. Stroke patients observed improved visual attention while listening to classical music.
The study also tried white noise and silence to compare the results, and found that silence led to the worst scores.
Because this study was conducted with a very small sample, further exploration is required to validate the conclusions, but it seems very interesting how music and noise can affect other senses and abilities.
Music helps us exercise
Research on the effects of music during exercise has been done for years. In 1911, an American researcher, Leonard Ayres, discovered that cyclists pedal faster when listening to music than when they were silent. This happens because listening to music can drown the fatigue cries of our brain. As our body realizes that we are tired and wants to stop exercising, it sends signals to the brain for a break. Listening to music competes for the attention of our brains, and can help suppress those fatigue signals, although this is mostly beneficial for low and moderate intensity exercise.
Not only can we fight pain when we listen to music, but it can actually help us use our energy more efficiently. A 2012 study showed that cyclists who listened to music require 7% less oxygen to do the same job as those who pedal silently.
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