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Effect of Music on the Brain - Music to Improve Your Memory & to Stay Focus

Updated on November 26, 2017
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Mazlan wasn’t into health or fitness, but as age crept up on him, he realized the important benefits of living a fit, healthy lifestyle.

The effects of music on the brain and mind were extensively studied in the past and had in many instances shown to have many beneficial effects. These studies also include classical music and brain development.

These studies are still in progress and this article shares some of the recent developments and research in this area. It explains how you too can benefit from it.

Listening to music can have beneficial effect on your brain
Listening to music can have beneficial effect on your brain | Source

Music to Enhance Awareness

In July 2012, the study on subjects with consciousness disorders was presented at the meeting of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness in Brighton, UK.

They observed a favorable effect on subjects with consciousness disorders when listened to their favorite song.

Music for Human Brain

Fabien Perrin of Lyon University, France, concluded that listening to your favorite music may trigger the autobiographical memory. This may then trigger another stimulus.

In other words, listening to your favorite music may bring back that hidden information in your brain. It helps you to recall this information that you need at that instance.

He also concluded that it could be possible for the music to enhance awareness. Hence, it can increase the consciousness level.

These experiments were conducted on two subjects in a coma, one in a marginally conscious condition, and one in a vegetative condition.

How to Benefit from this?

If listening to your favorite music can enhance awareness and increase the consciousness level, then you can increase your focus level, and have better recall of information. You can also be more attentive. This will lead to better assimilation of information and have a better memory.

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Music to Bring You Back into Focus

The New York Times, in their August 11, 2012, edition, reported how workers when listening to music, will help bring them back into focus. These may happen when the surrounding ambiance is too quiet or noisy or when they want to liven up a repetitive job.

It quoted Dr. Amit Sood of Mayo Clinic as saying that when people’s mind wanders, music can bring them back into focus. This will happen through dopamine, which is released when you listened to sound that you like, such as your favorite song. (In the brain system, dopamine is a chemical released by our body's nerve cells to send a signal to other nerve cells. It plays a major role in reward-driven learning - Wikipedia).

Dr. Sood adds that it will take only 15 minutes to 30 minutes of listening time to reclaim your lost concentration or focus. The best music to trigger this is music without lyrics.

Therefore, listen to your favorite music, better if it is an instrumental music, to make you more attentive.

Despite these benefits, not many companies allow its workers to listen to music while at a workplace. They said it will block out interactions and the workers will be in the world of their own and will not be fully engaged. If you intend to listen to music while at a workplace, get your supervisor's permission and explain to him/her the benefits. Better still, forward this article for his/her reference.

Listen to Classical Music Online While You're On The Net

Listen to a large collection of classical music including Baroque Music On-line while you surf the net or reading articles on HubPages. Try it. It has a free 5-day trial period after which you can opt for 3-month, 6-month or 12-month subscription.

Early Exposure to Music

In another study by Northwestern University, an adult that had some form of musical training during their childhood responded better to complex sounds. This research was published in the August 22 issue of Journal of Neuroscience.

This early exposure to music will enhance your memory and attention span, your speech and language skills. The most important aspect of this early exposure to music is giving you the ability to express your emotions vocally. This skill is crucial in any healthy relationship.

Music for Dyslexia Treatment

Research doctors are linking musical games to activities to help and aid dyslexics.

In this study, dyslexics played games where they are to respond to musical tones that come very fast. It was observed that when exposed to this situation, the dyslexics read better.

This study is still being conducted and is not conclusive yet.

Music to Lower Blood Pressure

Research has shown that listening to classical music, Indian raga music or Celtic music once a day for a month can lower blood pressure.

This lowering of blood pressure happened as your body feel more relax through the increase in the oxygen uptake by the heart. This study was conducted by researchers at Florence University, Italy and presented at the American Society of Hypertension's 23rd Annual Scientific Meeting and Exposition in 2008.

Music to Improve Athletics’ Performance

In one study, people listening to music while doing cardio exercise on the treadmill had their heart muscle worked better compared to those that did not.

Dr. Costas Karageorghis, a sports psychologist with Brunel University, found music that has a clear and steady beat could increase their performance by 20%. It will calm the nerves by 10% and this helps to increase athletics' performance.

Many sport-persons have used music to their advantage. One example is Pitcher Trevor Hoffman of the San Diego Padres, who listened to AC/DC to get him psyched up for the game,

Therefore, if you want to increase your athletics’ performance forget the drugs and steroids just listen to music. It is legal, cheaper and has no side effects!

Premature baby can recover faster when exposed to Mozart's music
Premature baby can recover faster when exposed to Mozart's music | Source

Music to Help Premature Babies

Premature babies if exposed to Mozart's music for thirty minutes on a daily basis, can grow and gain weight faster compared to premature babies that are not exposed to this music.

This study by researchers at Tel Aviv Medical Centre, a division of Tel Aviv University also observed that Mozart's music is better than Bach, Beethoven or Bartók. This is partly due to Mozart's music that has a highly repetitive melody.

Classical Music and Brain Development

How does certain music have a positive effect on our brain? One of the most promising studies is on classical music, especially from baroque music.

Mozart's music and most Baroque music are on a 60bpm pattern.

This pattern activates both the right and left brain. This simultaneous action from both right and left brain will enhance and maximize your activities that you are doing (while listening to the music) such as learning. In other words, your brain capability to process this information is further enhanced.

How Music Affect the Brain - Classical Music and Cognitive Tasks

Our brain, with billions of nerve cells, is divided into two hemispheres. Generally, most people will use the right hemisphere to process any form of 'musical appreciation'. However, there will be an interplay of both sides when we listened to music.

Music Brain Wave

Researchers have found actions and activities in other brain regions that control emotion and movement even when you listen to music without any physical activity. Your brain cells will light up at every single beat of the music you are listening.

You feel the emotion from the tune or the lyrics. Sometime you may sing along or just hymn to the tune. Sometime, you may want to dance or just tap your feet to the rhythm.

In another article that I had written, research has proven that plant seems to grow better when exposed to classical music. Maybe it works the same way on people!

Music Therapy in the Medical Centre

Medical science's understanding of the effects and benefits of music on the human brain has prompted them to use music therapy in medical and nursing centers. The followings are some examples:

  • Playing music to a patient who had a heart bypass surgery: Following the surgery, most patients will experience erratic changes in their blood pressure. Besides using the drug, playing background music tends to 'soothes the nerves'. This resulted in the lower dosage of this drug.
  • Playing soft background music, or listening to mother or nurse humming, to premature babies in the intensive care units: This help babies to recover and gain weight faster. They can leave the intensive care unit earlier than those who were not exposed to these sounds.
  • Playing music to Alzheimer patients in the hospital and/or nursing homes: Alzheimer patients can at times be difficult to handle. They can get aggressive and fights may occur. The right type of music has shown to calm them and reduce any confusion and aggressiveness.

Applying Music Therapy in Your Home

You can apply some of the above ideas for your family at home especially if they suffer from ailments as mentioned above. Below are some additional suggestions that you may want to apply for the learning abilities.

To Increase Focus and Concentration

Play classical such as a slow Baroque music as background music while your children study. You can also play when they write or read to increase their attention span, improves memory and retention level and to expand their thinking skills.

To Increase Productivity

Play recording of Nature's sounds such as sea waves, rain etc. as background music to increase your productivity, to energize your kids when they are bored with their daily activities and when you do your relaxation exercise.

To Solve Problem

Play Mozart music as background music when you are in a problem-solving or goal setting mood. You can play this music when your child is busy brainstorming on his or her school project.

Earlier Studies on Effect of Music on the Brain

Earlier research and studies had established the benefits of listening to certain music or in some instances to your preferred music. It changes the brain wave states to give benefits as follows:

  • Your acceptance of a good ambiance or desired atmosphere for learning as well as energizing your learning activities. This will then help the multisensory learning experience

Listen to Water Music-Get Your Copy Here

  • Be more focus and increased your level of concentration. Hence, it will increase your attention span and help to improve your memory. King George I of England uses the specially composed music by Handel's Water Music to help with his memory loss and stress
  • In most instances, will help to release tension
  • Stimulate the right brain to enhance imagination, inspiration, and creativity. it can also give you motivation
  • In group sessions such as in seminars, music can help break the ice and develop rapport
  • Slow and fast music can slow or increased the heartbeat, breathing rate, and blood pressure respectively
  • Listening to an ordered music such as baroque and classical period music, you can perform better on logical task such as doing mathematics

The Negative Effect of Music on the Brain

Dr. John Diamond in his book 'Your Body Doesn't Lie' wrote of his experience with rock music and the link between music and the body muscle's strength and weakness. He concluded that the irregular beats and shrill frequencies in rock music could be harmful to one's body.

Mobile Apps - Mozart Effect

Mozart's Baroque music and its effect on the brain have prompted the development of a mobile application for Android and iPhone mobile phones. Its marketing blitz says to help soothe the mind, release tension, help to induce sleep, improve memory and other benefits such as giving relaxation.

A quick Google search will take you to these applications and some are free.

In another study by Dr. Earl W. Flosdorf and Dr. Leslie A. Chambers, proteins that are in liquid form can coagulate when they are exposed to piercing high pitched sounds. Will this happen to your brain?

Professor Brad Bushman of Psychology & Communication Studies at Michigan University says that aggressive music and lyrics can manipulate a child's judgment psychologically.

Aggressive behaviors are caused by many factors and not just listening to 'aggressive music'. Children will react differently to ‘aggressive music’ but generally, it can have a negative impact on their mind.

Benefits of Music on Our Brain and Mind

These are some of the latest findings on the effect of music on the brain, either good or bad. Different people will react differently but generally, music does have a profound effect on people as well as on plants.

Share your experience here on the benefits or bad effects of music on our brain and mind.

© 2012 Mazlan


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    • greatstuff profile image

      Mazlan 5 years ago from Malaysia

      Thank you to all, for dropping by and commenting

      @leahlefler: Exposure to music at an early age are shown to be beneficial and I am sure you kids will thank you for that

      @Robert: Try the music therapy when you study for your MBA and share your experience writing a hub

      @rfmoran: Thanks for sharing your story. Did your nieces played any classical music on those visits?

      @M. Dasgupta : Thanks for the compliments and I am glad you found them useful

      @manthy: Thank you for the compliment and votes

      @Om: You're right, music is truly amazing

      @suzettenaples : Thanks and I'm glad you enjoyed reading this article. Thanks for the Share.

      @spartucusjones : No one thing can be applied to everyone. I am glad you agree that different types of music are suited for different types of activities.

      @teaches12345 : it is amazing how a simple act of listening to certain music can help us in so many ways. Thanks for dropping by and reading

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Good to know that music helps brain development and adds to our enjoyment of life. I do enjoy music and find it relaxing. Good to know how it helps with so many common ailments too.

    • spartucusjones profile image

      CJ Baker 5 years ago from Parts Unknown

      Very informative hub! I also agree that different types of music are suited for different types of activities.

    • manthy profile image

      Mark 5 years ago from Alabama,USA

      This is the good stuff man, voted up & awesome

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 5 years ago from Taos, NM

      Wonderful article! Interesting and informative. I believe music can do so much to enhance our lives and make them better. I loved this article. Voted up and sharing!

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

      I have heard a lot about how music can improve focus, memory and relaxation, but never knew it could also lower blood pressure and help premature babies grow! That is truly amazing. Thanks for this wonderful hub, greatstuff!

    • rfmoran profile image

      Russ Moran 5 years ago from Long Island, New York

      A wonderful hub, voted up and awesome. Halfway through I clicked onto a baroque music station. I feel better already! Thank you for your serious research and a well written piece. My mother, who suffered from Alzheimer's, would come alive when my classical musician nieces came to visit. Voted up and awesome.

    • Robert Erich profile image

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      This is another fantastic article. I have heard that music can truly play a huge role in our lives (both positively and negatively). It's incredible how music can touch us at a depth that few other things can.

    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      What an interesting hub, greatstuff! This makes me glad we are pursuing music lessons with my children. It really develops a child's language and math abilities.