Study shows listening and playing music good for your brain and health…
- Have you ever felt chills down your spine while listening to music? According to a study by Nusbaum and Silvia (2010), over 90% of us have. How powerful the effects of music, though, depends on your personality. People who are high in one of the five personality dimensions called ‘openness to experience’, are likely to feel the most chills while listening to music (Nusbaum and Silvia, “Shivers and Timbres Personality and the Experience of Chills From Music,” Social Psychology & Personality Science, 2010).
- A Stanford study shows that music engages areas of the brain which are involved with paying attention, making predictions and updating events in our memory (Baker, Mitzi. “Music moves brain to pay attention, Stanford study finds.” Stanford Medicine. Accessed February 24, 2015).
- Much like expert technical skills, mastery in arts and humanities is closely correlated to a greater understanding of language components (Trei, Lisa. “Musical training helps language processing, studies show.” Stanford News. Accessed February 24, 2015).
- Musicians are found to have superior working memory compared to non-musicians (Berti, et al., 2006; Pallesen et al., “Cognitive Control in Auditory Working Memory Is Enhanced in Musicians,” PLOS One, June 15, 2010).
- Musical experience strengthens many of the same aspects of brain function that are impaired in individuals with language and learning difficulties, such as the neural timing precision which allows differentiation between speech syllables (Kraus, N. and B. Chandrasekaran, Music training for the development of auditory skills. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 2010.11: p. 599-605.)
- Both music and language are complex communication systems, in which basic components are combined into high-order structures in accordance with rules. Whether music was an evolutionary precursor to language or merely a byproduct of cognitive faculties that developed to support language, music is pervavise across human cultures and throughout history (Nina Kraus, Jessica Slater, “Music and language: relations and disconnections,” The Human Auditory System: Fundamental Organization and Clinical Disorders, Vol. 29, 3rd Series, 2015).
- Cross-sectional comparisons of musicians to non-musicians have established a variety of musician enhancements in auditory skills and their neural substrates, extending from enhanced perception and neural encoding of speech, most notably in suboptimal listening conditions, to more proficient auditory working memory and auditory attention (Nina Kraus, Dana L. Strait, “Emergence of biological markers of musicianship with school-based music instruction,” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 2015).
- Adults who receive formal music instruction as children have more robust brainstem responses to sound than peers who never participate in music lessons and that the magnitude of the response correlates with how recently training ceased. These results suggest that neural changes accompanying musical training during childhood are retained in adulthood (Skoe, E. & Kraus, N. 2012. A Little Goes a Long Way: How the Adult Brain Is Shaped by Musical Training in Childhood, Journal of Neuroscience, 32, 34, 11510. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1949-12.2012).
- Music therapy utilizing improvisation on hand drums helped veterans modulate their “often misdirected, exaggerated, and unrecognized emotions,” with the goal being generalization of these skills to everyday life. Drumming provided an opportunity for the men to express and control their feelings and helped build a sense of connectedness and group mission (Burt, J. W. (1995). Distant Thunder: Drumming with Vietnam Veterans. Music Therapy Perspectives, 13, 110-112; quoted in, “Music Therapy and the Military,” by Ronna Kaplan, Huffington Post, March 4, 2013).
- Researchers found that those who played an instrument for two years showed a stronger “neurophysiological distinction” between certain sounds than children who didn’t get the instrumental training. For instance, the music-makers more easily could tell the difference between the words “bill” and “pill,” a key skill in learning to read (Skoe, E. & Kraus, N. (2012). A Little Goes a Long Way: How the Adult Brain Is Shaped by Musical Training in Childhood, Journal of Neuroscience, 32, 34, 11510. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1949-12.2012).
- Researchers from Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center looked at how different types of music and silence were processed in the brains of 21 people with epilepsy. Whether listening to classical music or jazz, all of the participants had much higher levels of brain wave activity when listening to music, the study found. Brain wave activity in the epilepsy patients tended to synchronize more with the music, especially in the temporal lobe, the researchers said (Robert Preidt, HealthDay, August 10, 2015).
- Seven in ten Americans (71%) say that the learnings and habits from music education equip people to be better team players in their careers (July 2014 Harris Poll).
- People high in openness to experience are more likely to play a musical instrument, and more likely to rate music as important to them (Nusbaum and Silvia, “Shivers and Timbres Personality and the Experience of Chills From Music,” Social Psychology & Personality Science, 2010).
- A review of 23 studies covering almost 1,500 patients found that listening to music reduced heart rate, blood pressure and anxiety in heart disease patients (Bradt & Dileo, “Music for stress and anxiety reduction in coronary heart disease patients,” PubMed.Gov, 2009).
- In research by Ferguson and Sheldon (2013), participants who listened to upbeat classical compositions by Aaron Copland, while actively trying to feel happier, felt their moods lift more than those who passively listened to the music. This suggests that engaging with music, rather than allowing it to wash over us, gives the experience extra emotional power (Ferguson and Sheldon, “Trying to be happier really can work: Two experimental studies,” The Journal of Positive Psychology: Dedicated to furthering research and promoting good practice, 2013).
- A study by Logeswaran et al. (2009) found that a quick blast of happy music made participants perceive other’s faces as happier. The same was true for a snippet of sad music. The biggest effect was seen when people looked at faces with a neutral expression. In other words: people projected the mood of the music they were listening to onto other people’s faces ( Logeswaran et al., “Crossmodal transfer of emotion by music,” Neuroscience Letters, 2009).
- Four out of five Americans (80%) believe their music education has contributed to their level of personal fulfillment (July 2014 Harris Poll).
- Two-thirds (67%) of Americans say music education provides people with a disciplined approach to solving problems (July 2014 Harris Poll).
- Two-thirds (66%) of Americans say that music education prepares someone to manage the tasks of their job more successfully (July 2014 Harris Poll).
- Graduates from music programs report that creativity, teamwork, communication, and critical thinking are skills necessary in their work, regardless of whether they are working in music or other fileds (Craft, A. 2001. An Analysis of Research and Literature on Creativity and Education. Report Prepared for the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. Coventry, England. Strategic National Arts Alumni Project, SNAAP. 2010. Forks in the Road: The Many Paths of Arts Alumni: Strategic National Arts Alumni Project 2010 Findings. Bloomington, IN).
- Both the Greek and Roman armies used brass and percussion instruments — including the ancestors of the modern cornet and tuba — to convey information on the march, in the field and in camp. Greek armies on campaign employed musicians to accompany poetic recitations of odes and paeans designed to remind soldier and citizen alike of the valor of past heroes. After the collapse of Rome in the West, its tradition of martial music was preserved and refined by the Eastern empire in Byzantium (HistoryNet Staff, “The Music of War,” History.net, June 6, 2012).
- The formal discipline of music therapy has a rich, long history in providing services for our American heroes. It began after World Wars I and II, when community musicians performed in veterans’ hospitals and medical professionals noticed patients’ positive and emotional responses to music. In 1944, when it became evident that these hospital musicians required special training, the first music therapy degree program was founded. Currently, approximately 50 qualified music therapists work in VA hospitals throughout the U.S., according to Al Bumanis, director of communications at the American Music Therapy Association (“Music Therapy and the Military,” by Ronna Kaplan, Huffington Post, March 4, 2013).
- Since 2005, the VA has more than doubled the number of music therapists at its clinics (Abbie Fenress Swanson, “Music helps vets control symptoms of PTSD,” Time, March 8, 2010).
- When the first American soldiers manual — compiled by Maj. Gen. Wilhelm von Steuben — was issued to the Continental Army in 1778, it contained a list of beats and signals modeled on those used in European armies. More quickly than in Europe, however, the bugle replaced the fife and drum ensemble in the American ranks. In 1867 bugle calls for the U.S. armed forces, mostly patterned after French models, were codified and standardized into a form that largely survives today (HistoryNet Staff, “The Music of War,” History.net, June 6, 2012).
- While burgeoning technology eclipsed the need for music to accompany movement on the battlefield by the mid-20th century, it remained an effective means by which states could manipulate the morale, energies and attitudes of armies and indeed entire populations (HistoryNet Staff, “The Music of War,” History.net, June 6, 2012).
- A study of healthy male college students found that, while riding stationary bicycles, the participants worked harder while listening to fast music. Extra bonus: They also enjoyed the music more (Scott Christ, “20 surprising, science-backed health benefits of music,” USA Today, December 17, 2013).
- One study found that playing soft music (and dimming the lights) during a meal can help people slow down while eating and ultimately consume less food in one sitting (Scott Christ, “20 surprising, science-backed health benefits of music,” USA Today, December 17, 2013).
- Listening to classical music has been shown to effectively treat insomnia in college students (Scott Christ, “20 surprising, science-backed health benefits of music,” USA Today, December 17, 2013).
- Scientists have found that the emotions patients experience while listening to music have a healthy effect on blood vessel function. Music both made study participants feel happier and resulted in increased blood flow in their blood vessels (Scott Christ, “20 surprising, science-backed health benefits of music,” USA Today, December 17, 2013).
- One study found that listening to music after a workout can help the body recover faster. While slow music produced a greater relaxation effect post-exercise, it seems that any kind of music can help the physical recovery process (Scott Christ, “20 surprising, science-backed health benefits of music,” USA Today, December 17, 2013).
- Studies show that music can trigger the brain to release chemicals that distract the body from pain. When music reaches the brain’s auditory cortex, there’s communication between the cortex and the brain’s areas that control emotion, memory, and motor control (Abbie Fenress Swanson, “Music helps vets control symptoms of PTSD,” Time, March 8, 2010).