Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Music & the Brain



It seems that listening to music does more for our brains than just aesthetics. In fact, a research team from Stanford University showed that music engages the areas of the brain involved with paying attention, memory, and making predictions. High school students that study music have higher grade point averages and develop faster physically. They also develop better listening skills. Children exposed to music before age seven have a greater increase in the size of the corpus callosum. These fibers are instrumental in joining the left and right hemispheres and may increase the processing of information between both sides of the brain. Actively taught students were found to have a greater cerebral cortex activation.

Listening to certain baroque-period music causes the heart beat and pulse rate to relax to the beat of the music and as the body becomes relaxed and alert, the mind is able to concentrate more easily. Mozart's music, with a 60 beats per minute beat pattern, activates the left and right side of the brain - this in turn maximizes learning and retention.

Music also affects all living things. Music such as the Blue Danube has shown to aid hens in laying more eggs. Wheat will grow faster when exposed to special ultrasonic and musical sounds. Plants grow well for almost every type of music except rock and acid rock, in fact they withered and died when exposed to those genres. In the 1970's teens would bring raw eggs to a rock concert and put them in front of the stage - by the end of the concert the eggs would be hard boiled by the music and could be eaten. Researchers showed that proteins in a liquid medium were coagulated when subjected to piercing high-pitched sounds.

Music is much more than a distraction. All the more reason to incorporate it into a life well-lived. 

13 comments:

Mila said...

This is certainly music to my ears!

That thing with the egg...I must carry out that experiment at the next rock concert.

Music has never been a distraction for me nor background noise. In times of difficulty, music sometimes has been the only refuge.

Brian Miller said...

music is such a part of my life, this does not surprise me at all...

karena said...

Music is an essential in my life. First thing in the morning the music goes on. Totally agree with you on the this...music sets the tone of the day..it either soothes the soul or gladdens it. Good news that it can be beneficial to the brain and learning.

Jeff D'Antonio said...

As a teacher, I've always noticed that many of my best students were also musicians, and the link between music and math ability has long been known. I think it's great that this kind of research is being done, especially at a time when music programs are being eliminated from so many schools. I only hope the decision-makers in those schools take notice.

I'm curious what might happen to plants if you play rap music for them - that stuff can't be good for any living thing...

And I'm pretty sure reggae is only helpful to certain types of...uhh...weeds.

GYPSYWOMAN said...

totally neat post, nancy - but seems blogger is still carrying its mean stick and knocking out comments - i've tried several times to leave one here to no avail -

but as i was saying, i've always played music for my plants - and have also found that my creative juices flow much more when i have my music going in my car as i drive - driving is one of my most creative times for some reason - in any event, i get lost in wherever it is that the music takes me - and there find the words for many of my poems -

great post -

oh, and now, when is james durbin's first concert? need to take a dozen eggs!!!

Whitney Lee said...

Fascinating stuff. I find music is essential-it's about the only thing that can change my mood from down to up (or vice versa). When I think of my past there is a soundtrack for each phase; hearing those songs now can immediately take me back, much the same as particular scents can do for people.

This makes me happy that my children are so immersed in music.

DJan said...

I have always been fascinated with the different ways music affects people. Last year I read "Musicophilia" by Oliver Sacks and wrote this post about it. Wonderful information in that book!

Pat said...

I have always heard that music and math are connected and this makes sense. I can't really play an instrument and I suck at math! I tried to take piano lessons about 10 years ago and I had such a hard time with learning the notes. I had muscle memory with my fingers, but the notes? Forget it!

Natalie said...

A big fat resounding YES! Great post, Nancy.x

Marguerite said...

Interesting post! Music is a very big part of my life and always has been. Ironically, classical music such as Mozart and Beethoven have the opposite effect on my brain, and make me unable to concentrate.

susan said...

I still think one of the best theories about crop circles is that they're made by complex harmonics. Some of them certainly remind me of Mozrt.

Trish said...

Great info here. I've always noticed that when I walk into someones home for the first time, if the air rocks with music - of any kind - I feel right at home.

California Girl said...

I associate music with so many areas of my present and past; it's a wonderful way to keep memories alive. I memorize lyrics easily much as my father memorized poetry. It's poetry put to music and it is singularly easy for me. I should have put my sons' schoolwork to music. It might have made it easier for them.