Noticias HC

#Music and the brain, what effect does music have on our brain? II

Music surrounds us and inundates us, it makes us emotional, lets us travel in time, it gives us strength or fills us in moments of peace. Music can be found anywhere, in every sound, every rhythm and in every voice, but: What really happens in our brain when we hear a melody?


In our second post concerning the main actions music exerts on our brains we go into further detail on 4 of the actions we discussed in our first post on #music and the brain.


Música y cerebro II


1. Music can significantly improve our motor capacity and reasoning power

Through music we can activate the two hemispheres of the brain and create more connections between them.


The left hemisphere governs the more logical part, reasoning, numbers, language etc. On the other hand, the right hemisphere governs the more intuitive, imaginative and creative functions.


What happens when we listen to music? The right-hand part of our brain stimulates our imagination and lets our emotions fly high, while the left-hand part will be active analysing the works and concentrating on the more rational side, such as the meaning of the words, the notes, the rhythms, etc.


Music induces emotional states by facilitating changes in the distribution of chemical substances that can induce positive states of mind and make us feel excited, which in turn can enhance rehabilitation.


Through the clinical use of music, music therapy seeks to activate physiological and emotional processes which allow the stimulation of functions that have diminished or deteriorated and improve conventional treatments. Important results have been observed in patients with problems of mobility, speech difficulties as a result of a stroke, dementia, neurological disorders and in children with special needs, among others.


2. Classical music can improve our visual attention

A study carried out with stroke patients revealed improvements in visual attention while they listened to classical music.


Neutral sounds and silence were used as control variables to compare the results and as with the young drivers, silence turned out to be the worst option, obtaining the lowest points.


3. Music is an effective medication for heart disease

Or at least it can help us to face the stress and anxiety associated with undergoing the treatment for coronary heart disease.


A review of 23 studies covering a total of almost 1,500 patients revealed that listening to music reduces the heart rate, blood pressure and anxiety in patients with heart disease.


4. Music helps us to exercise

Registers have been kept since 1911, when an American scientist, Leonard Ayres, found that cyclists pedalled faster when they listened to music than when they were in silence.


The explanation may be that when we listen to music our brain changes the focus of its attention and steers it away from the sensation of fatigue and pain. As our body realises that it is tired and wants to stop exercising, it sends signals to the brain to let it rest, but listening to music competes with these signals and encourages the physical activity to continue.


But this occurs above all when the body is doing moderate exercise; it is not so effective with highly competitive exercise.


Another study revealed that cyclists who listened to music needed 7% less oxygen than those who did the same activity in silence.


Music is physical and encourages people to move to the rhythm. The stronger the beat, the more pronounced and forceful the body movement. Physical exercise can help to improve circulation, protect the brain and promote motor function.


So just as exercise makes us happier and healthier, it should come as no surprise that music adds a feeling of success to all our activities.


As if the benefit to the brain was not enough, listening to our favourite song releases endorphins, raising our positive feelings and making us more relaxed. Do you need any other reason to begin to train your ear?

Sources: Neuroscience Psychological Science/ Instituto de Neurociencias Cognitivas (INECO) [Institute of Cognitive Neurosciences]



October 7, 2019




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