Music: Medicine for the Brain

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Has a teacher ever told you that listening to music cannot help you while in class? If so, here is evidence to prove them wrong! There are many benefits that come along with listening music that you prefer by triggering different parts of your brain. There are lots of different types and styles of music: rap, classical, jazz, pop, and many more. With the different styles of music comes stereotypes about the listeners of that type of music. However, all music has been proven to be able to enhance a person’s mood, behavior, and brain power.  

There are many stereotypes placed on listeners of different music because many people nowadays do not listen to the music of their own culture. For example, you look over at a white girl blasting the gangster rap and give her a funny look because it does not seem right. Yet, you do not blink an eye in the direction of a Mexican teenage boy listening to the exact same music.  It does not matter if it is your perceived culture’s type of music or not, music has the power to enhance any listener’s emotions. It has the power to make you feel a certain way, no matter what genre of music it is.

When a person listens to music they prefer or know, it can have many different effects on one’s brain. The brain interacts with the music you prefer because it triggers memories and emotions.These memories and emotions can be happy, sad, stressful, hateful, etc. They are triggered by the stimulation of the formation of a certain brain chemical. The brain chemical that is being stimulated is the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is the brains motivational molecule, it makes the brain feel good and is the pleasure-reward system. Therefore, music you prefer can have many effects.  

Listening to music can help students in school. Music has been proven to be effective for helping people focus, although the listener is multitasking between listening to the music and working. For example, research has shown that about 55% of students who listened to music while doing schoolwork have benefited from the music. Studies proved that students who were listening to music before and during work were able to have better focus, memorize facts easier, and the music lessened their anxiety. The degree to which the music was beneficial depended on the student listening to music because everyone learns differently; music may benefit them greatly or not have much of an effect on their schoolwork, which is why the number was 55%, not 100%. However, music can do much more than help students focus at school.

Music has also been proven to have many medical and therapeutic benefits. Listening to music you prefer and know can be therapeutic. All listeners are benefiting emotionally from listening to music of their choice. One example of the therapeutic benefits through music is reducing side effects of cancer therapy. The effects of cancer therapy, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, are nausea and vomiting. However, by listening to music you enjoy, it reduces a patient’s anxiety which stops nausea and vomiting. Another example is how it helps improve speech impediments.  Listening to music can help restore lost speech by pushing the left side of the brain to function properly. Listening to music you prefer is therapeutic in general because it calms the mind and lessens anxiety and stress and stimulates the left brain.

While music itself cannot heal a wound or get rid of cancer, it can put the mind at ease enough to calm other problems in the brain or with the body. The brain is one of the most important and powerful organs of the human body. If your mind is calm, tension from other problems will either dissolve slowly or come to a pause. It can also improve the quality of life for elderly patients with dementia by engaging them into the moment. By engaging the patient, memories, physical coordination, and communication come back by reducing their agitation. There is no doubt that listening to music has benefits, but does that apply to every genre of music with anyone of any age? If people are listening to music they love, for whatever reason, they are gaining therapeutic help, even if some of the lyrics seem harsh. However, music can have some negative effects too.

Research has shown that music that makes explicit references to violence, drugs, sex, homicides, suicides, tobacco, alcohol, and death have had a major impact on forming young children into what they are listening to. Young children listening to these types of music results in aggressive behavior, distance from loved ones, and a hateful or aggressive perspective on life. Rap and heavy metal music have been connected to teens and children that are considered “at risk”. They do not respond or respect teachers as well as others. Young males have also shown aggressive feelings and behavior towards women. These young men were the children who would usually cause domestic violence in school, home, or a relationship. These children, male and female, have been known for using violence towards another if they feel emotionally threatened. For example, one of these “at risk” children would hit or argue with their mother because they feel she is not meeting their demands. These children feel like music helps them although, it can actually be doing damage. Although damage might be down through explicit music, it also helps these types of children reach a level of calmness to which they are more likely to communicate once they are listening to their music.

There are programs that help people of any age deal with the tensions that come along from listening to harsh music. There are also medical programs that use music to help patients among hospitals. Patients might be asked if they think they could benefit from listening to music while in their hospital bed, if they reply yes, a certified music therapist is issued to the patient. Patients who have been helped by a music therapist have shown 25% quicker recovery time from some sort of brain injury than those who have not.

Music may be the ultimate form of self-medication; people use it all the time to improve their emotional state — get fired up for exercise, try not to feel depressed, etc — and it even has physical, healing, effects, but, like any drug, if you don’t use it correctly it can hurt you.  Music is one of the most commonly found connections between people. Whether it is rap, classical, or jazz, and you’re white, Mexican, African-American, etc, music can be very beneficial. These benefits include many therapeutic, physical, and emotional ones. Next time you feel stressed or have an illness of some sort, listen to music and see if you can feel the effect music can have on you. Next time you are debating upon listening to music, remember what Bob Marley once said, ¨One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” Music has the power to heal us beyond our imagination.




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