If you want a healthy body, go to the gym. If you want a healthy mind, put on your headphones.
There are a few things as mentally stimulating as music. If you want to keep your brain sharp, sound, and young, playing or listening to music is one of the best things you can do.
According to research, music can help reduce blood pressure, anxiety, and even chronic pain, alongside improving your mood, mental alertness, and sleep quality.
The Connection Between Brain and Music
So, how do our brains perceive music? A stereo system produces vibrations that move through the ear and enter the ear canal. There, these vibrations come into contact with the eardrum and are converted into an electrical signal that enters the brainstem through the auditory nerve. Once inside the brainstem, the electrical signals are rearranged into something we recognize as music.
Researchers from the John Hopkins university had numerous rappers and jazz performers create or improvise music while inside an fMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machine to identify the areas of the brain that light up while creating music.
According to this and other research, there is a difference between the brains of musicians and those of non-musicians. The former’s brains have more sensitive, better-connected brains. They also have stronger working memory, greater auditory skills, and more mental flexibility. Physically, their brains display greater symmetry.
The areas responsible for spatial coordination, auditory processing, and motor control are also larger in the musician brain. Musicians also brag about a larger corpus callosum (the band of nerve fibers responsible for sharing information between the left and right hemispheres of the brain).
There is a lot of math, structure, and architecture involved in music. It is based on the relationships between one note and the next. We do not notice it, but our brains work very hard to make sense of music.
The Impact of Music on Neurodegenerative Diseases
Patients in the late stages of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s are generally unresponsive. However, once these patients listen to headphones playing their favorite music, they start to move and sometimes even sing. This effect lasts for around ten to fifteen minutes after the music has stopped playing.
This can also be observed on fMRIs: numerous parts of the brain light up as the patients listen to the music.
Other Mental Benefits of Music
Music can help your brain and mental health in the following ways:
- Improved cognitive performance
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Improved memory
- Improved sleep quality
- Improved motivation
- Improved mood
While music can definitely entertain and inspire, it also has powerful mental and psychological benefits that can improve your health and wellbeing.
So, instead of seeing music purely as a form of entertainment, you should also consider some of the mental benefits of adding more music to your life.
To learn more about the benefits of music, please feel free to check out some of the other blogs on our website.