How Music Affects the Brain
We all know that music molds our brains, but few have embraced the details.
Music has a few surprising effects on the brain. It also shapes our moods and personalities. Listening to it has profound implications for our creative and relationship success.
Bach Minuet in G Major
A. Music Affects the Brain in Different Ways
Music affects our focus, creativity and physical well-being in many profound ways.
1. Music affects our perceptions.
Our favorite tunes guide the way we think. One study showed that people are likely to interpret neutral expressions based on the music they listen to.
When asked to interpret a neutral expression, most people interpreted them as sad when listening to sad music and angry when they heard raucous, angry music.
The study also showed that we sometimes understand, but do not necessarily empathize, with the emotions of a piece of music. We listen with perceived, but not necessarily felt, emotions.
2. Music of a moderate noise level improves creativity.
Depending on our preferences, we may turn to soft classical music that we think helps us focus or hard, thumping rock to motivate us as we work our way through our to do lists.
As it turns out, moderately loud music, such as jazz or pop, is the best music to stimulate creativity. It increases our brain's ability to process difficult information, making this possible.
3. Music distracts us when we are driving.
It is now confirmed. Our favorite music distracts us when we are driving.
A study shows that drivers who listened to their favorite music drove more aggressively.
We may not want to turn on the radio while we drive after all.
4. Music improves our motor and reasoning skills.
Studies also show that music has benefits for our motor skills and powers of reasoning.
A study showed that children who learned a musical instrument had better fine motor skills. They also had better auditory discrimination.
5. Classical music improves visual attention.
A small study showed that classical music makes us pay more attention to what we see.
This little study compared the impact of classical music and silence on visual attention. Silence received a poor score.
6. Music helps us exercise.
Listening to music helps us through our exercise routines. This is why people plug into their IPods while they jog.
Music grabs our attention and overrides signals of fatigue.
No Woman No Cry
Which music is your favorite?
B. How Different Music Affects Our Moods
In addition, music affects our moods in various ways.
1. How Music Generally Affects Moods
We listen to music for different reasons. Studies show that people prefer listening to sad music when they suffer personal or interpersonal losses, such as someone's passing or a romantic breakup.
We prefer angry music, of course, when we meet personal transgressions such as an unfair situation at work.
2. How Different Music Affects Our Moods
Different types of music affects our moods as well.
In one study, six people of different ages listened to three similar songs for each different genre of music. They were to list their feelings about the music on a scale of 0-5.
a. Classical Music
After they listened to the classical tracks, the participants reported feeling calm and even claimed improvements in their memories.
b. Rap Music
The fast-paced nature of rap music, with its heavy tempo, has a somewhat startling effect on our mood.
It causes bran symmetry to change, leading to changes in behavior seen as negative. The overpowering feeling is often misconstrued as confidence.
Teens, of course, empathized with this feeling. Adults, however, tended to find it irritating.
c. Alternative Music
Alternative music has a happy, calming effect. Though data varied with different types of alternative music, all six people agreed that it gave them surreal feelings of calm.
Jazz, too, gives feelings of calm. All six participants of this study agreed that the music produces this effect.
e. Rock Music
Rock gives people the same feeling as rap. It also raises tension, with faster, thumping beats, and causes changes to the symmetry of the brain.
The study found that those who listened to rock have a higher tendency for behavioral problems.
f Country Music
Some may think of country music as having a high degree of calm, but it the instruments and nasal vocals cause a high degree of irritation.
Half the participants found it annoying.
C. How Music Affects Our Personalities
Apart from mood, our music choices have a bearing on our personalities. In one study conducted of couples getting to know each other, the top ten tracks they chose to listen to were reliable indicators of their personality traits.
Do remember that your personality depends on a host of factors!
The study found that blues listeners are easy-going, creative and gentle. They are also extroverted.
Jazz fans are really self-confident. They are also outgoing and have relaxed personalities.
Classical music fans, conversely, prefer quiet activities. However, they have a good sense of self and are creative.
Rap fans of Kanye West and his counterparts have a self-confident aura. They are easy-going and creative.
The elegant nature of opera, as sung by Jose Carreras, breeds gentleness. Opera fans are delightfully gentle and creative.
6. Country and western fans are hardworking and outgoing
Country conjures images of hardworking farmers who make guests feel at home. Country music fans, indeed, are hardworking and outgoing.
Reggae music by well-known greats like Bob Marley makes listeners want to kick back and relax. Reggae fans are laid back, outgoing people who esteem themselves highly. They are also gentle and at ease.
We associate dance with creativity and grace. Dance music fans are creative and outgoing, but the restless nature of dance takes away their gentleness.
Indie fans are laid back. They have low self-esteem, are creative, and a little rough.
Bollywood fans are creative and outgoing folks who enjoy expressing themselves.
11. Rock/Heavy Metal Fans
Rock fans are creative, but are a little reserved. They are a little laid back and edgy.
Fans of chart pop are diligent and outgoing, but somewhat reserved and prefer the rational over creativity.
Fans of soul music by the likes of Aretha Franklin and more recently, Adele esteem themselves highly. They are highly creative, relaxed people.
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