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The Effects of Music On The Brain
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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.
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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.
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.
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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.
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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.
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