Listening to, or playing music has very much advantages for your brain and your mood. It can help you relax, concentrate, become smarter and more.
Musicians Have Bigger, Better Brains
If you want evidence of how music affects the brain, it makes sense to look at the brains of those who play a lot of music — professional musicians. Brain scans show that their brains are different than those of non-musicians. Musicians have bigger, better connected, more sensitive brains. Musicians have superior working memory, auditory skills, and cognitive flexibility. Their brains are noticeably more symmetrical and they respond more symmetrically when listening to music. Areas of the brain responsible for motor control, auditory processing, and spatial coordination are larger. Musicians also have a larger corpus callosum. This is the band of nerve fibers that transfers information between the two hemispheres of the brain.
This increase in size indicates that the two sides of musicians’ brain are better at communicating with each other.
While most of us aren’t professional musicians, we still listen to a lot of music — on average of 32 hours per week.
This is enough time for music to have an effect on the brains of non-musicians as well.
Music Can Improve Your Mood and Reduce Stress
Science has now proven what music lovers already know, that listening to upbeat music can improve your mood. Listening to and playing music reduces chronic stress by lowering the stress hormone cortisol. Music can make you feel more hopeful, powerful, and in control of your life.Listening to sad music has its benefits too. If you are going through a tough time, listening to sad music is cathartic.
It can help you get in touch with your emotions to help you heal.
Music Boosts Brain Chemicals
One of the ways music affects mood is by stimulating the formation of certain brain chemicals. Listening to music increases the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is the brain’s “motivation molecule” and an integral part of the pleasure-reward system. It’s the same brain chemical responsible for the feel-good states obtained from eating chocolate, orgasm, and runner’s high. Interestingly, you can further increase dopamine by listening to a playlist that’s being shuffled.
When one of your favorite songs unexpectedly comes up, it triggers a small dopamine boost.
Music Can Make You More Productive
There’s abundant evidence that listening to music at work can make you a happier, more productive employee. This is especially true if you can choose your own music. Office workers allowed to listen to their preferred choice of music complete tasks more quickly and come up with better ideas than those who have no control over their musical choices. Background music enhances performance on cognitive tasks, improves accuracy, and enables the completion of repetitive tasks more efficiently.
Music Can Make You More Creative
Music is a source of creativity, especially when it’s upbeat. When study participants listened to music labeled “happy,” their creativity went up. They came up with more creative solutions and a greater number of ideas than those who listened to other kinds of music or no music at all. Interestingly, participants didn’t have to like the music they were hearing to reap these benefits.