Our brains are wired to dig and groove to tunes. Music has evolved to serve many purposes in our lives. Psychologists have uncovered that music can assist in rehabilitation, emotion regulation and general wellbeing. Below are some of the most useful and interesting ways music can affect us.
Music provides comfort, relaxation, motivation and stimulates emotion states
Research suggests we experience comfort from listening to sad music. Most of us like to listen to sad music when we’re going through a tough time like a relationship breakdown. A Study by Durham University proposed this is because sad music is often universal; we can connect with a common experience. Hearing someone telling his or her story can lead us to feel like someone else understands what we’re going through. Like a friend showing you empathy.
Soothing music has been found to help relax muscles, and slow your breath. This kind of music also releases serotonin and dopamine (the neurotransmitters that regulate our moods). This helps to improve our mood, which helps our general wellbeing. Yuna Ferguson, noted that this type of positive mood has been linked to better physical health, higher income, and greater relationship satisfaction.
Songs can influence you in other ways too. For example, they can motivate us if we connect with their energy – we can feel like we have 10 times more energy to plough through a workout. Songs can change your mind. Hearing a truly genuine story or expression of thought through song that gives you chills can be really powerful. Lady Gaga’s song ‘Til it Happens to You’ is about experiencing sexual assault and has reportedly made countless people rethink their opinions about victims of sexual assault.
Songs can also stimulate a range of emotions that may help us cope when we are facing a difficult time. One such emotion is anger. If you’re going through a breakup or are feeling hurt, stimulating anger might help you get out of bed, and go out and concur the world.
Music has a profound effect on our brain itself. Watch the video below to see the incredible effect music has on people with Parkinsons’s disease.
Because we associate certain songs with important memories and times of our lives, music has been shown to help some people with brain injuries create new neural pathways to recover lost memories. Some people with brain injuries lose their ability to talk, but when asked to sing Happy Birthday, they can do it without skipping a beat! This is because the part of the brain that is used to controlling speech is different to the part used to control singing. Some brain injury sufferers can learn to speak again through music therapy.
Here’s an example below: