Music holds an important place in many people’s lives. A good song on the radio can make you forget about a bad day or transport you back to your childhood, while films and television use music to conjure up atmospheres and moods.
But music has a much deeper cognitive function than simply being something that sounds good to our ears. As an example, musicians such as Beethoven and Chris Buck who were considered virtuosos despite the fact they were deaf.
So what effect does music have on our brains and our bodies and how does it influence the way that we think?
The ‘Kenny Rogers effect’
It seems that music has the power to repair certain forms of brain damage. Patients who have lost part of their ability to see or speak through strokes, lesions or similar brain damaging occurrences can be substantially helped by something called the Kenny Rogers effect.
It has been found that people who have lost the ability to talk can soften sing words without any problems and people’s limited sight has been dramatically improved.
The key to understanding how this is possible is to look at the left and right sides of the brain. Language functions are located on the left while musical memory and reception are held on the right. This means that you can train yourself to talk again by associating speech with music.
Another part of this is that if music is found pleasurable by an individual, they will produce and release more dopamine which helps to repair and increase the functionality of the brain.
Strengthening your immune system
This may sound fantastical at first, but trust me, the science here holds up.
Music has a number of effects on your body, one of which is helping to reduce the levels of Cortisol in your brain. Cortisol helps reduce stress and therefore makes your immune system better able to fight diseases and viruses.
Research finds the best music for reducing stress and increasing your health is jazz, bluegrass and soft rock.
Music also helps to raise your immune markers, which contributes to the creation of antibodies to fight diseases. It is also stipulated that listening to piano versions of Mozart can lead the cerebral cortex to resonate in such a way as to reduce the chance of seizures amongst certain people.
Speaking of Mozart, there is serious evidence that this man’s music can increase your spatial awareness and therefore increase your IQ, although no one is quite sure how!
Triggering long forgotten memories
Because music engages both sides of your brain in many different ways (rhythm, melody, mood, emotion, lyrics, etc), it has the power to pull memories out of the abyss that merely talking about the events in question cannot.
That is why hearing a song that you haven’t heard since your childhood can bring a whole host of images flooding back. For example, Pink Floyd always makes me think of being in the back of the car staring at the world going by.
Helping with Parkinson’s Disease
While music is by no means a cure, it can help people suffering from the physical effects of Parkinson’s disease such as locking muscles and spasms.
It can do this by engaging your body and making it move subconsciously through rhythm. You know when you find yourself tapping your foot to music without even realising that you had started doing it? This is basically the same thing.
There you have it then, just some of the amazing ways in which music can affect your body and the way you think. It is not all positive though, a recent survey found that you are way more likely to crash your car if you are blasting jazz rather than classical through your car stereos, so by careful ok?
Anyone else got any miraculous musical facts to share with the group?
James Duval is an IT specialist and general technology enthusiast. When not composing witty and insightful blogs for brands like the Car Audio Centre, James likes to indulge in his twin passions of motor biking and listening to classic rock.