How music can give your brain a boost

Postdate: 26 July 2017

Do you remember the hit 'Macarena'? The dance moves may come up from the depths of your mind as soon as you hear this song, or you remember how old you were when you heard it for the first time. Music brings up memories and emotions, it activates your muscles, and it can even boost your intelligence.

Music activates and inspires
When you hear a song you like or remember, a whole range of processes begins in the brain. According to the Canadian-American psychologist Steven Pinker and 'music professor' Erik Scherder, music activates several areas of the brain which also releases various emotions. Some of these reactions are universal, such as a joyful reaction to a catchy melody, while other types of music can expose deep and complex emotions. Music can move you, de-stress, or bore you, but it can also make you think and induce physical activities. For this reason, a song such as 'Macarena' can be both irritating and fun at the same time. If you want to de-stress, classical music or the sound of the sea can be the answer, says violinist Letizia Sciarone. Through the inspiration of a sound (the vibration), both you and your cells start to vibrate as well, which stimulates relaxation and the ability to let go of thoughts.

Music makes you smart
It is scientifically proven that music has a positive effect on the IQ. The magazine Nature once wrote about the so-called 'Mozart effect': after listening to Mozart for 10 minutes, students got a higher score in the area of spatial awareness via an IQ test than students who did not listen to it. Ultimately, it was not so much about Mozart, but about the repetition, structure, and composition of the music that gave this result. Music lessons stimulate the brain even more: learning to play an instrument is more or less similar to learning a new language. It will take more time to do this at a later age than when you are young, as it requires much from brain areas that are vulnerable to ageing. Another important part is that music is linked to memories. These memories come to the surface when you hear recognisable sounds, together with the feeling you associate with that specific event. Scientists call this the autobiographic memory.

This is why music appears to have a favourable effect at the workplace, to de-stress as well as to foster social contacts and cognitive functions such as planning, creativity, and energy. This can be done by working for an hour while listening to music on a daily basis. And finally, making music or experiencing how this process functions can be good to promote collaboration and management skills.

‘Through music, we can experience very intense emotions, but in a safe way’

brain     emotions     music     stress reduction     workplace    

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