Music on the Brain
By Callie Sanders, LSW, January 8, 2019 –
Music is a universal language. It is the gateway for optimal brain health, longevity, and happiness.
In the world of research, neuromusicology explores the nervous system’s response to music and how it activates every part of the brain. Studies performed on musicians reveal significant brain health and well-being.
The largest fiber bundle in the brain, the corpus callosum, is said to be larger and more symmetrical in musicians. It is responsible for connecting the right and left hemispheres, allowing communication between both sides. It is also involved in several other functions of our body, such as eye movement, vision, and sensory perception.
The lack of musical ability does not keep a person from enjoying its benefits. Listening to upbeat music can have positive effects on mood. It naturally helps to lower the stress hormone cortisol. On the contrary, sad music has benefits too, both cathartically and revolutionary, that increase self-awareness.
Music also stimulates the formation of brain chemicals and hormones. One chemical particularly stimulated is the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is responsible for the “feel good” state. It also stimulates the hormone oxytocin, which helps us bond with and trust others. So continue to play, listen, and enjoy music whenever possible.
Another important area of life where music is beneficial is at work. Not only does music ignite more creativity and productivity, but when employees are allowed to pick the music, productivity and task completion accelerate, stress lowers, and work is more manageable.
The universal language of music, as a whole, supports social behaviors such as empathy, kindness, and cooperation. Children should be involved with music as much as possible. Encourage your child to join the band or choir at school. It’s a great way to boost self-esteem, self-awareness, and a sense of community.
Because I am part of a musically inclined family, music has and will always be a staple in my life. I encourage you to listen to genres that aren’t familiar to you and play an instrument you are familiar with or learn a new one. Encourage your child to do so as well.
Happy listening and have fun playing!