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The Effects of Music On The Brain

Updated on September 11, 2014

Music all Around -

Every day our society is exposed to music. Watching television, grocery shopping, eating at a favorite restaurant, driving down the road, at one time or another everyone is exposed to music. Who would have thought that the music we are being exposed to actually affects our everyday lives, influences our spending habits, the way we deal with emotion, and even the way we learn.

Music can be traced back to the prehistoric times, when a flute was found with a man's fossil, and can be traced all the way up to our current years. It is around us all of the time in our everyday lives, it is used as a therapy, a tool, a marketing trick, and to some people it is an emotional outlet. Music affects mood, behavior, and health; it is a key component in life. Music makes people feel good, but like all good things, should be used in moderation because it could have ill effects.

Photo Credit: babiigrrl44

music speaks
music speaks

The Effects of Music While Studying

Music affects the way we learn. It is shown on PET and CAT scans that listening to music stimulates areas of the brain responsible for memory, motor control, timing, language, and emotional responses, which is significant because different types of music can stimulate different parts of the brain and produce positive and negative effects. For example, playing upbeat music, such as dance music, can stimulate the motor part of the brain to produce a tapping effect which makes people want to dance.

If a student listens to Mozart while studying, the memory part of the brain is stimulated and increases the amount of information retained which is called the Mozart effect. Basically, the Mozart effect is just a collaboration of studies performed by physics professor Gordon Shaw. His studies suggest that listening to a Mozart piano sonata compared with rock and roll, country, rap, heavy metal, R&B, or nothing at all- actually performed better academically on tests. The effects have led researchers to believe that those who listen to classical music or play an instrument tend to excel, while those who listened to country, rock, and R&B only improved performance slightly, whereas those who listened to rap and heavy metal actually perform lower than average.

There have also been studies done where students were asked to do a writing task while listening to Mozart, their own choice of music, or silence. The study showed that the students who got to choose the music they listened to enjoyed the writing task more. The ones who did not listen to anything did not have any recorded change; while the ones who listened to Mozart reported not liking the task as much, they performed better academically.

Photo Credit:bobbynipper

music heals
music heals

Music Has Healing Effects

Not only does music affect the way we learn, it has healing effects, as well. Certain types of music can produce calming effects that reduce anxiety, since calming music leads to a decrease in physiological responses. With the decrease in physiological responses, comes a decrease in tension and anxiety. By decreasing tension and anxiety, the calming effects can alter a person's mood to become positive or reduce pain, in some instances. Research in Germany shows that over 20 years and 90,000 patients, the ones who had soothing music playing in the background during their procedures reduced the amount of medication taken for pain by 50%, in comparison to those who had no music played at all. Their recovery time also was reduced.

Music's healing effects have been used in research on Alzheimer's patients, as well as with autistic children. It has been shown that people with Alzheimer disease who listen to music are less combative during times they were prone to be that way, for example, during meal times and bathing times. It is also thought that since music stimulates the parts of the brain responsible for memory, that Alzheimer's patients who listen to music have a higher recall of memories and do better with reality orientation and facial recognition. The effects on autistic children are different, in that the over-stimulation to them helps them communicate and learn words.

Psychiatric hospitals have been aware of the effects that music has on mood for some time now. Certain hospitals found that listening to country western music at meal times reduces mealtime violence. They also play music at therapy sessions and try to teach relaxation techniques in conjunction with music. The results have been an effective treatment for elderly depression and anxiety.

Photo Credit: mariamaria0101

Have You Used Music For Healing?

Do You Agree That Music Can Influence The Healing Process?

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Music as a Marketing Tool

How Music Effects The Brain

It comes as no surprise that music is used as a marketing tool because of the effects it has on the mind. A perfect example of this is the music that is played during commercials. Someone trying to sell a SUV is more likely to play rock and roll, it portrays a tough image, gets the heart going, stimulates the body to be excited, and excite the public about the product. However, when trying to sell a high-end sports car, classical music is more appealing to the advertisers because it appeals to the smarter, richer people in society, and leaves a lasting image of the specific advertisement in the memory, because the music stimulates the memory part of the brain.

Music also affects the way people shop. Large department stores try to play slower music which reduces tension and anxiety, physiological responses, improves mood, as well as makes you walk slower. This encourages people to stop and check things out more, leading to more purchases. Restaurants even take advantage of music's powerful effects. Big chains, such as Applebees, play upbeat music that is usually trendy with good steady beats, which keeps the customers in the store eating at a steady pace, the staff moving at a steady pace, and therefore, keeps the tables turning, allowing for more business.

Photo Credit: Brookemoro

music ill effects
music ill effects

The Negative Effects of Music

Not all effects of music are good, though. Listening to music too loud can cause nerve deafness. Going to a concert, particularly a heavy metal concert, can actually blow out a person's eardrums. Rap and heavy metal have been shown to lower testing performance. As well, these types of music are also prone to lyrics that are explicit or depressing, and which may alter a person's mood to become hostile, depressed, or suicidal. Studies show that unhappy teenagers listen to more music than normal teenagers who are happy. When the unhappy teenagers were asked what types of music they listened to, the most popular answers were heavy metal and rap. Current research being done on drum beats suggests that drum beats of 8-13 beats per second are causing abnormal behavior and thoughts. These drumbeats can also be linked to heavy metal and rap.

Photo Credit: serpentine_lies

More on Music Therapy and Autism - Music And The Brain

© 2010 Mandy

How Has Music Affected You?

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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I'm in high school and I'm doing a research paper on: philosophy of music.I found this article and started reading I instantly found a lot of information I wanted to use it was most helpful in my search because I have been searching for almost 5 days and haven't found muc. Now I am almost done with my paper

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I always listen to classical music when I study. It's a great way to relieve stress and it helps me focus!

    • Tricia Deed profile image

      Tricia Deed 

      6 years ago from Orlando, Florida

      We had visited the wax museum in our community. After taking the tour of the wax figurines there was a musical tribute representing the featured figurines. It was then that my life flashed in front of my eyes and I came to realize that my life has been surrounded by music. Therefore, music is my memories, and my living experiences of work and play.

    • TapIn2U profile image


      6 years ago

      Whenever I feel stressed out, I like to listen to music. That and Tapping works wonders! Fantastic lens! Sundae ;-)

    • chironseer profile image


      6 years ago

      It is powerful, sometimes relaxing, or melancholic, rousing, whatever.

    • JimHofman profile image


      6 years ago

      I find it very calming and therapeutic. A great stress reliever.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Very interesting lens

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      @anonymous: is this relevant?

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      i like music.

      i don't like music.

      i like cheese.

      i hate cheese.



      im funn-ay

    • takkhisa profile image


      6 years ago

      I like listening to music but it does not mean i am addicted! :)

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 

      6 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Very interesting information. I bit of a different type of music lens.

    • Mrs A for Apple profile image

      Mrs A for Apple 

      6 years ago

      We enjoy classical for relaxation in our house and I played it throughout my pregnancies. I hope that it helps my kids learn and raise their consciousness level.

    • Board-Game-Brooke profile image

      C A Chancellor 

      6 years ago from US/TN

      I listen to music regularly for relief from stress and anxiety.

    • ksktika profile image


      6 years ago

      great lens, i listen to meditation music for relaxation.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      7 years ago

      I'm married to a composer and am constantly surrounded by music, mostly jazz. Sadly, our loud partying neighbors favor rap and hip hop. I enjoy music, but sometimes silence is golden.

    • waldenthreenet profile image


      7 years ago

      Music connects arts and science to create inner harmony. Valuable topic. Conversation helps with deeper understanding. Congrads on your Squidoo level 61. Thanks.

    • Diane Cass profile image

      Diane Cass 

      7 years ago from New York

      As a composer and musician, I have been aware of the magical healing properties of music for longer than it has been scientifically recognized. All my life, I have instinctively sought out music to help with stress, depression and personal motivation. I listened to classical music all through college, put on smooth, acoustic music when I need to de-stress, and play Manhattan Transfer upbeat jazz when I need motivation to...say...clean the house. : ) Great lens on a topic very close to my heart.

    • bushaex profile image

      Stephen Bush 

      7 years ago from Ohio

      I think we all have our own personal soundtrack thanks to music. And after all, even silent movies are guided by music!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Good information. My stepfather is in the middle stage of Alzheimers and music most definitely is a useful tool a the right times.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Music makes me calm. However, when I study I choose not to listen to music because I cannot concentrate. I can't multi-task listening and studying at the same time.

    • hughgrissettsr lm profile image

      hughgrissettsr lm 

      7 years ago


    • profile image


      7 years ago

      very attractive lense! loved it

    • Sara Krentz profile image

      Sara Krentz 

      7 years ago from USA

      Music never fails to affect my mood. Great lens : )

    • RaverGoat profile image


      7 years ago

      My boyfriend is a music/theater major. Cool lens. :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Here is the effects of music therapy:

    • ghaelendlareh profile image


      7 years ago

      I like that you've talked about various ways in which music affects us. I think about it mostly for relaxation, but you are right -- everything in life is affected by music.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Music is powerful, reading about its power to effect our mood makes me want to listen to a tune now! Nice lens.

    • lesliesinclair profile image


      8 years ago

      motivates and encourages me to paint what I think, and to continue painting sometimes beyond my energy.

    • HackMyHeart LM profile image

      HackMyHeart LM 

      8 years ago

      I think it's definitely true that music affects our moods! Reading all about it just makes it all the more interesting. Thank you for putting this lens together! Music helps me cheer up when I'm feeling down, especially when I sing along!

    • anaamhussain profile image


      8 years ago

      Music is the key to keeping me from going into depressive modes! Love your lens :)

    • SueM11 profile image

      Sue Mah 

      8 years ago from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

      Love your lens. I enjoy listening to some soothing music when I am tired and need some relaxation.

    • profile image

      Donnette Davis 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      We have music in every sphere of our lives! Great lens, thank you so very much!

    • zblessedlife lm profile image

      zblessedlife lm 

      8 years ago

      love it!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I listen to mostly classical music and I really believe that music does affect health. I also sing in my church choir and I always feel great after rehearsal.

    • zeronese lm profile image

      zeronese lm 

      8 years ago

      we start hearing before we are even in this world, that why sounds are attached to our feelings... from fear to joy, from anger to love... great work thanks :)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Often times when studying, I listen to classical on one of my upper tv channels. It's the most soothing kind of music that I can listen to without stopping what I'm doing to sing along, etc. The results pay off as I do very well in the subjects I listen to music to. It inspires my thoughts!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Music heals the soul. Appreciate your lens.

    • sousababy profile image


      8 years ago

      Yes, music is healing, inspiring and all of those things. It's magic (I feel, sometimes). Great lens. Thanks for sharing.

    • pancreatitishelp profile image


      8 years ago

      What a great lens. thanks for the info. Always learning something here

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      music is delicious...yummy for my brain :)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Excellent information on the positive and the ill effects of music....we are apparently very uniquely wired to be sensitive to music in all its forms and as we discover more about that sensitivity, we can benefit even more. Very well done!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Sometimes when I want creativity to come out I play soothing music. It works great for writing poetry. Love all the details and how it effects you in the advertising venue. I have noticed this in grocery stores and other retail. Wonderful lens.

    • avorodisa lm profile image

      avorodisa lm 

      8 years ago

      Music has often a great influence on my mood.

    • dogface lm profile image

      dogface lm 

      8 years ago

      Music relaxes me and boosts my mood. Great lens!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      8 years ago from Colorado

      Music has always been a powerful influence in my life. I have always played several instruments and started out in college as a Music Therapy major. As an educator, I used my guitar to help children learn and retain information. As an administrator, I made sure music was always abundant in my schools. Thanks for sharing an important topic.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great idea for a lens!! Music has a huge impact on the world. I know that I am way more creative when I listen to music while I am taking pictures or drawing or writing. It helps get that part of my brain going.

    • Krafick profile image


      8 years ago

      Wonderful lens about something I adore.

    • Kelsey-Budden-16 profile image


      8 years ago

      I love music. I love lyrics. I love instruments. I love voices. I love everything about music. I listen to different types of music. It all stems up to the mood I'm in. I guess that's pretty much what you're trying to say in that last module.

      I really liked this lens and, I just might tell someone about it! :-)

    • JakTraks profile image

      Jacqueline Marshall 

      8 years ago from Chicago area

      Enjoyed this lens - I'm a music lover, too.

    • JackieBlock profile image

      Jackie Block 

      8 years ago from SE Michigan

      Nice lens. I know music always makes me feel better! Thank you for sharing this with us.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This lens sings sweetly the reasons we need more music in our lives, but well chosen music.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      music is life!

    • InnaTsv profile image


      8 years ago

      *thumbs up* - a very motivating lens!

    • ICanCook profile image


      8 years ago

      I use music a lot in my life. Usually to soothe and calm me but sometimes to pick me up and energize me like when I'm cleaning my house.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Music is something which I could not do without. I am a classical music fan, and tend to have my emotions very close to the surface. More than once people have knocked on our door when I have a favorite CD on and found me with tears running down my face. Thanks for this page.

    • BuckHawkcenter profile image


      8 years ago

      You get another, well-deserved Angel Blessing on this one! You did a fantastic job on this lens and it deserves to be in the top of the rankings. Good luck on your challenge. And this is featured on Angel Wings November 2010.

    • Rita-K profile image


      8 years ago

      Music is a cure all for me! Wonderful lens, great insight to the wonders of music!

    • Sarah Switalski profile image

      Sarah Switalski 

      8 years ago from Iowa

      Blessed (again I see!) by an angel and added to my angel lens :)

    • mythphile profile image

      Ellen Brundige 

      8 years ago from California

      Fascinating topic! I wonder if this changes over time or by culture.

    • javr profile image


      8 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I have suspect this about music for years. Thanks!

    • howtocurecancer profile image


      8 years ago

      Your lens is good. I love music, but I did not know all the effects of music. You don't know, but you are helping me a lot. I have to keep a positive attitude for my mom who is a cancer survivor.

    • teemu profile image


      8 years ago

      Great use of CSS. I totally agree that music has a major impact on our feelings. However, I cannot multitask while it's playing. I'm too one-track. Great job!

    • MagpieNest profile image


      8 years ago

      Great topic. I love music. I find it very difficult to do much else while music is playing - I tend to stop what I'm doing and give my attention to the music.

    • JessK LM profile image

      JessK LM 

      8 years ago

      A few weeks ago, my hubby made the comment that whenever he wakes up with a song in his head, he has a great day. It's so true! It doesn't matter what song, sometimes the sillier the better, but the music seems to give me a burst of energy in the morning.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Love music. It's highly emotional for me. And fascinating. And I can't remember song titles or carry a tune... :) ...Much success with the Tier One Challenge!

    • Sensitive Fern profile image

      Sensitive Fern 

      8 years ago

      This is a great lens! I have been listening to a lot of chamber music again lately and I find that I do work more efficiently. It's interesting what has been found about how heavy metal and rap can increase abnormal moods. What do you think of the work with water crystals and different types of music?

    • GonnaFly profile image


      8 years ago from Australia

      I love music but I am very selective with what I listen to. After reading your lens, I just put on some of my baroque music for my daughter to read by :-)

    • maplesyrup59 profile image


      8 years ago

      I love just about any kind of music, my favorite being probably from the Big Band era and the 50's and 60's. This is a great lens!

    • DecoratingEvents profile image


      8 years ago

      Music is very important to me. While I am pretty eclectic in my tastes, I like Sinatra while on the computer! :)

    • JollyvilleChick profile image


      8 years ago

      The music I listen to varies depending on what I'm doing. If I'm creating and/or designing, I like classical music. If I'm doing calculations or web coding work, it's silence. I like listening to AOL online radio when I'm working on my computer. I find that I like music the best when I control the type of music and the volume.

    • CCGAL profile image


      8 years ago

      I have always longed to live in a broadway musical. **sigh** I love music. Great lens, btw!

    • pkmcruk profile image


      8 years ago from Cheshire UK

      Delightful presentation of the subject and nice examination of the effects of music and look forward to coming back to see how it continues to develop!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Lovely lens. I really enjoy music, but like paperfacets I usually prefer silence at home. Having so many different types of music to listen to is wonderful, I have a different favorite for each mood. Best of all, I enjoy playing music, I'm not very good, but I'd love to take up the cello again, it's such a soothing instrument to play.

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 

      8 years ago from La Verne, CA

      I no longer like to listen to music in the home. I prefer silence. I still like rock and roll in the car, but it can not be oldies. Oldies push my annoyance button. Over all I love music, it just has to be something new most of the time.

    • ajsphotographic1 profile image


      8 years ago

      Loved the info on the Mozart effect, will try this next time I'm trying to study. Thanks for some great info.

    • Adriana Daniela profile image


      9 years ago from New Market

      I love listening to soft music while I work on a puzzle: it helps me find the pieces quicker (or at least it seems that way).

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      We tend to under-estimate the healing and soothing effect of music. Spiritual music that is calm certainly is very effective and relaxing.

    • callinsky lm profile image

      callinsky lm 

      9 years ago

      Wonderful article. Adored it. I love music and it no doubt plays an impact on my emotions. I watched Music Instinct: Science and Song. It was great. I bet you would really like it.

    • VladimirCat profile image


      9 years ago from Australia

      I know exactly what you mean! Some music has a negative effect on me but listening to Mozart soothes as well as stimulates

    • LouiseKirkpatrick profile image


      9 years ago from Lincolnshire, United Kingdom

      I love music and Heavy Metal is my absolute passion - if I'm feeling down Metal lifts me right back up there again! However, when I work, I prefer complete silence - I can't even bear the radio on as I find music too distracting, so it's never enabled me personally to do better when I study or write - maybe I should crank some Mozart up loud! Excellent lens - blessed by a SquidAngel :)

    • JenOfChicago LM profile image

      JenOfChicago LM 

      9 years ago

      Fantastic lens - I hope you got an A on the paper in college! Blesesd by a squidangel

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 

      9 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Remember Pourquoi Mozart? Of course you do, you mention Shaw, but any observed increase in test scores is due to a boost in mood and arousal. Music moves us greatly. Lovely lens and blessed by an angel today

    • hayleylou lm profile image

      hayleylou lm 

      9 years ago

      Well put together. I know the way that listening to music changes my mood so this lens really makes sense - I love music. Thumbs up :)

    • norma-holt profile image


      9 years ago

      Great ideas and nicely presented material. Blessed and featured on Sprinkled with Stardust

    • justholidays profile image


      9 years ago

      When you write that music has healing effects, well at least regarding the mind, it's surely a fantastic medicine! When something goes wrong in my life, I turn the CD reader on and listen to good old blues and everything turns fine.

      As for marketing... Hm... I'm not a good consumer. But there's one thing: when I enter the supermarket, I hear Silent Night and other Christmas musics and songs playing in my head. Still wonder why ;)

    • KarenTBTEN profile image


      9 years ago

      Music is inextricably woven through the stories of my lifetime -- not sure how much the music has created or caused and how much it has merely reflected.

    • GuyB LM profile image

      GuyB LM 

      9 years ago

      Music has effected me in many different ways. I like sad songs too that really make me think. Music helped me earn my masters degree in pschology. Not sure I couldv'e gratuated summa cum laude without my John Tesh collection. Love the lens-you are very talented.

    • GuyB LM profile image

      GuyB LM 

      9 years ago

      Music has effected me in many different ways. I like sad songs too that really make me think. Music helped me earn my masters degree in pschology. Not sure I couldv'e gratuated summa cum laude without my John Tesh collection. Love the lens-you are very talented.

    • delia-delia profile image


      9 years ago

      Great lens and subject... I love music of all kinds, especially Classical's just in my blood...One of my husbands nieces who is not into classical music, played Mozart & Bach when she was pregnant and after the baby was born, it had a profound effect on his intelligence, she also taught him to do sign language before he could talk...amazing how he could communicate and not be able to talk.


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