The Profound Effects of Music

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Elana Sparks, Staff Writer

Music impacts brain function and human behavior. It has been scientifically proven that music has a powerful effect on the brain. Listening to, or the creation of music has been linked to enhanced cognitive ability. It can evoke memories and improve a person’s mental state of mind. Neuroimaging shows that listening to a song can produce large amounts of dopamine. Not only that, but it has been proven to help aid cognitive disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

Two University of Central Florida professors, (Kiminobu Sugaya and Ayako Yonetani), teach a well-known course at The Burnett Honors College. The course “Music and the Brain” teaches how music affects Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients. Sugaya says, “Usually in the late stages, Alzheimer’s patients are unresponsive, but once you put in the headphones that play [their favorite] music, their eyes light up. They start moving and sometimes singing. The effect lasts maybe 10 minutes or so even after you turn off the music.” 

Music not only helps aid in the healing of cognitive disorders, but mental disorders as well. Nostalgia, a deep longing for the past that is usually associated with enjoyable memories, can be brought about by music. Listening to a song can remind you of past relationships, friendships, or family. However, not all nostalgia is fuzzy, warm feelings. Painful experiences can also be associated with a certain song or artist. It is normal to have wistful feelings when looking back on the past, as well as longing to go back to happy memories.

Depression is a mental illness that affects most of today’s generation. It has been proven to be relieved by listening to music. Studies on music therapy’s effect on depression have shown that music can increase motivation, decrease anxiety, and improve personal relationships. Music acts as a neurological stimulator due to emotions and experiences associated with it. Memories caused by listening to music help evoke emotions that can aid in one’s healing process. Music cannot “heal” depression, however, it can help to a great extent.

So what genre of music affects your brain? It all depends on personal preference. Your relationship with music plays a role in what your brain favors. Everyone has different backgrounds, personalities, and is from a different culture. Whether it be jazz, pop, or country music, if it aligns with your musical preferences, you will benefit from listening to it.