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Music Is the Medicine of the Mind


Lifestyle Improvement

Posted On: Dec 25, 2015

Music Is the Medicine of the Mind

While not all of us are known to sing in the shower, just about everyone loves to listen to music. Whether it’s opera and classical music or heavy metal and classic rock, each of us has a preferred musical genre. We depend on our favourite tunes to get us through the tough times as well as celebrate the good times. But did you know that music affects more than just your emotions, and engaging with music is like giving your brain a complete workout? While it might not feel like you’re exercising while you’re listening to music (unless you are, of course, working out at the gym with headphones on), your brain is firing on all cylinders when you think you are just simply enjoying a good song.

In fact, one of the ways music changes the mind is by helping to ease the symptoms of fatigue. This explains why so many people find it beneficial to listen to music while jogging outside or working out at the gym. When your body is tired, the muscles send signals to the brain that are interpreted as fatigue. When you are listening to music, however, the brain needs to balance its energy between interpreting the pain signals and processing the sounds coming from your earphones. By listening to music, you distract your brain from the pain signals and can workout longer. There have even been studies done that claim the body uses energy more efficiently when the exerciser is listening to music.

But what if instead of being distracted, you need your brain to focus more intently on a task at hand? Music can help you with that, too. Classic music in particular has been shown in studies to help improve visual attention in stroke patients. The patients in the study listened to either classical music, white noise, or nothing at all. The patients who listened to classical music consistently scored the highest, while those performing the tests in complete silence scored the lowest.

Listening to music is beneficial for your brain, but if you really want to give your mind the full advantage of the power of music, learn to play an instrument. Just about every part of the brain is involved when you are playing an instrument. Learning to play specifically engages the auditory, visual, and motor cortices. When you continue to play to improve your musical skills, the brain continues to learn and strengthen connections across these different parts of the brain.

Playing music has also been found to increase the neural activity at the corpus callosum, which acts as a bridge between the right and left hemispheres of the brain. By strengthening this connection, the performer is able to more effectively combine his or her creativity and analytical skills, which leads to better problem solving in all sorts of situations. Additionally, learning to play an instrument leads to better memory function, allowing the brain to create, store, and find memories faster and more effectively.