L YUDI ARE NOT THE ONLY BEINGS ON THE PLANET , capable of producing melodies, but only we can so much enjoy and be inspired by them (although animals also have prerequisites for this ). But why does music play such an important role in our lives? How exactly do we perceive it and how does our brain behave? Collected ten facts that will help you figure it out
We can be rhythm- sensitive from birth
Scientists wondered at what age we begin to hear music – not as a set of separate sounds, but as a melody. To do this, they conducted an experiment : they measured how the brain of newborns reacts to melodies, including using fragments with a broken rhythm. It turned out that children react to this “breakdown” – this was evident from the changes in brain activity. The study was small, but it suggests that we have the ability to understand the rhythm of a melody from birth. In addition , in the womb, the fetus can hear different rhythms – for example, the mother’s heartbeat. Also, babies can distinguish between the duration and pitch of sounds, which also helps to perceive melodies.
Listening to music doesn’t make kids smarter
It is logical that many are wondering what kind of music should be put on for children – the most popular version says that it is classical. There is even the so-called Mozart effect – a hypothesis that listening to this composer’s music increases IQ. In 1993 , scientists conducted the following experiment . The students were divided into three groups: the first was given to listen to the works of Mozart, the second – instructions on relaxation, and the third was left in silence. After that, the participants were given a test for spatial thinking – it turned out that the results improved only in those students who listened to Mozart.
What ‘s wrong with this experiment? As is often the case, the problem is mass interpretation: IQ increased by only ten minutes, and there were no long-term changes . Later it turned out that the test results improve if a person is played any melody that he likes (be it Mozart, Schubert, or even a piece by Stephen King read aloud). Favorite music activates the central nervous system, cheers up and invigorates – and that is why tests are better solved.
Music can enhance creativity
So, music wo n’t make us smarter . But somehow it should influence our thinking? In one study , developers took part – workers with a fairly creative specialty. On for a few weeks then they listened to music while working, then worked in silence. Five weeks later, it turned out that working with music, people were more productive and came up with more creative solutions.
Other scientists have found that “happy” music is more likely to help us to be creative – that is, the one with more major and solemn notes. In addition, the same mechanism can play a role here as in the Mozart effect: an increase in mood stimulates creativity.
Music reduces stress levels
There is a scientific explanation for the habit of listening to music as a distraction: it can actually reduce stress and regulate mood. One of the possible reasons for this process is that songs increase self-esteem and self- confidence .
There is another explanation – biological. Proven that listening to music reduces the level of cortisol – a hormone that is released during the experience of heavy and stressful situations (not important, there is a speech about classical music or pop songs). Listening to music can also help lower blood pressure, heart rate, and relaxation. This fact, for example, is used to reduce the anxiety of patients before surgery.
Music helps you exercise
Many people listen to music while playing sports – and rightly so. Research has shown that it enhances endurance and performance during exercise. One of the reasons music is effective is that it distracts us from fatigue. That said, podcasts and audiobooks perform the same function, but they are less helpful in facilitating workouts – so it’s not just about distracting attention from the load.
Music, especially fast music (in the range of 125–140 BPM), improves mood and motivation for sports. Many athletes before serious starts listen to music “for the right mood” and say that it helps them to recharge their confidence and focus. In addition , the rhythmic features of the music help keep pace with the aerobic type of exercise – say, running.
Character and preferences in music are linked
It is believed that preferences in music can predict the traits of a person and that fans of certain genres are often similar to each other. Scientists have tested more than a thousand adolescents to determine the main characteristics of their personality – the so-called big five, or big five (this includes extraversion, benevolence, emotional stability, consciousness and openness to experience). These traits were then compared with their musical tastes. It was found that, for example, adolescents who prefer rock have low levels on the consciousness scale and high on the openness to experience, while those who prefer pop and dance music are more extroverted and benevolent. But, of course, it’s not worth saying that we love rock or hip-hop because of a certain character – many more factors influence this.
We enjoy music because of our love of predictability.
It is difficult to argue with the fact that humanity loves to listen to music. Even our brain gives us away: listening to it activates the centers associated with the system of pleasure and reward. They also come into action, for example, during eating and sex – but at the same time, music, unlike food and reproduction, is not necessary for humanity to survive . The question arises: what is the pleasure connected with?
There is a theory that we like to predict the possible turns of the melody. People generally tend to try to predict the future, and music is great stuff for that. Listening to music, we are building a guess which note will sound on and how it will change the rhythm. If we guess right, the reward system is activated in the brain and we experience positive emotions.
We somehow perceive music live and in recording
You can often hear that some performers sound better live – but this is not always related only to the quality of the performances. One of the reasons , of which we like to go to concerts, lies in the mirror system of the brain. It includes neurons that are activated when we experience a certain emotion, as well as when we see a person who is experiencing it. For example, disgust and seeing someone else experiencing it will activate the insular cortex. And the feeling of pain and the observation of the suffering of another is the cingulate gyrus.
At live performances of a musician, this is exactly what happens: we see what emotions the performer puts into the song, and we begin to experience them . In addition, at a concert, emotional contamination can work – a mechanism by which mood is transmitted to people around. Standing in a crowd makes it easier to feel joyful or anxious over the sound of the music than listening to the recording alone.
Some people don’t like music because of the peculiarity of the structure of the brain.
Not all people enjoy music the same way . To begin with , there is a disease of amusia , it manifests itself in the inability to understand and play melodies. Most often, in people with this feature, some parts of the temporal lobes of the brain or pathways are affected. People often encounter it – according to various sources , from 1.5 to 4% of the population have congenital amusia. In addition, it can occur after strokes and other disorders of the brain.
Of course, not at all, who does not love to listen to music, have a disease – often people just do not have fun. This may be due to a peculiarity of the brain: in such people, it reacts weaker to melodies than in those who like to listen to music.
Music is used in medicine
There is even music therapy – when doctors use music as a remedy. When we listen to melodies, the relaxation of the autonomic nervous system occurs – this leads to a decrease in pressure and pulse, muscle tension and oxygen absorption. This reduces the level of anxiety, as well as less pain.
But that’s not all. Music can affect immunity: in one experiment, children in the hospital were given tunes to listen to to see if their mood would improve . It improved – and along with this, the content of immunoglobulin in saliva increased . True, it is important to note that research in this direction is still insufficient to draw far-reaching conclusions.