The power of music on the brain

The human brain is more powerful than any computer known to man.  Science is only beginning to understand the miracle of how the mind works.  And although science is still pioneering discoveries about the grey matter between our ears, we do know quite a bit.  If you’re interested in taking a deep dive into neuroscience, this article probably isn’t for you.  Today, we will touch upon a more basic ingredient for good brain function: music.

One of the most popular courses at the University of Central Florida is entitled: Music and the Brain.  The course explores how music influences human behavior and brain function.  Students learn how music helps in reducing stress, depression, and improving cognitive skills.  The class further touches upon music’s positive effects against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

What music is best for the brain?

“It depends on your personal background,” the director of the study said. 

Many suppose that classical music would have the most positive effect on brain function. Beginning in 1991, academics have peddled the so called “Mozart Effect” which posits that listening to Mozart music helps improve short-term memory.  Other variations of the Mozart Effect hypothesize that listening to Mozart makes you smarter and that children who listen to classical music will experience a beneficial effect as they mentally develop.

The matter hasn’t fully been settled in the academic community.  The question isn’t so much about whether music has a positive effect on brain function.  The question is what genre of music has the most profound effect.  For example, people with dementia seem to respond better to music they grew up listening to, which often is not classical music.

Regardless of the genre, here are things the UCF study said music can do:

Change your ability to perceive time, Tap into primal fear, Reduce seizures, Make you a better communicator, Make you stronger, Boost your immune system, Assist in repairing brain damage, Make you smarter, Evoke memories, Help Parkinson’s patients, and more. . .

Test yourself

How about you? What kind of music has the most positive effect in your life? 

You can discover (or rediscover) music’s power in your life by doing the following experiment:

  • Find a quiet place to do a simple writing assignment on the computer (e.g. a short, 1 page story about your favorite getaway location, a letter to a loved one, a blog post, etc.).
  • Make sure the environment is relaxing and quiet.  If you really want to add calm to the mood, use a relaxing oil diffuser like the Melaleuca Pure Bliss Diffuser or DoTerra’s Aroma Lite Diffuser
  • Listen to three songs as you’re writing.  The three songs should be: (1) Overture to Handel’s Messiah, Main Theme: Man from Snowy River, and (3) a song of your own choosing. 
  • Which song(s) helped you focus the most? Were any of them distracting?
  • Keep trying this exercise with other songs of your choosing until you begin to discover the kind of music that helps your brain the most.  Pay attention to whether the songs have lyrics or not.  What about tempo? Major vs minor key signatures? 
  • Once you discover the kind of music that helps your brain the most, then build a playlist and build that into your regular, daily work schedule.

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