Music is an art, entertainment, pleasure, and … medicine for the soul and body. Music is one of the few activities that involves using the whole brain. It is intrinsic to all cultures and has surprising benefits not only for learning language, improving memory and focusing attention, but also for physical coordination and development.
Not all types of music have favourable effects. Music can be distracting if it’s too loud or too jarring, or if it competes for our attention with what we’re trying to do. But for the most part, exposure to classic music has beneficial effects:
Overall, music does have positive effects on pain management. Music can help reduce both the sensation and distress of both chronic pain and postoperative pain.
Listening to music can reduce chronic pain from a range of painful conditions, including osteoarthritis, disc problems and rheumatoid arthritis, by up to 21% and depression by up to 25%, according to a paper in the latest UK-based Journal of Advanced Nursing.
Music therapy is increasingly used in hospitals to reduce the need for medication during childbirth, to decrease postoperative pain and complement the use of anesthesia during surgery.
There are several theories about how music positively affects perceived pain:
- 1. Music produces revulsive effect
- 2. Music may give the patient a sense of control
- 3. Music causes the body to release endorphins to counteract pain
- 4. Slow music relaxes by slowing breathing and heartbeat
Reducing blood pressure
By playing recordings of relaxing music every morning and evening, people with high blood pressure can train themselves to lower their blood pressure – and keep it low. According to research reported at the American Society of Hypertension meeting in New Orleans, listening to just 30 minutes of classical, Celtic or raga music every day may significantly reduce high blood pressure.
Medicine for the heart
Music is good for your heart. Research shows that it is musical tempo, rather than style. Italian and British researchers recruited young men and women, half of whom were trained musicians. The participants slipped on head phones and listened to six styles of music, including rap and classical pieces, with random two-minute pauses. As the participants kicked back and listened, the researchers monitored their breathing, heart rates and blood pressure. The participants had faster heart and breathing rates when they listened to lively music. When the musical slowed, so did their heart and breathing rates. Some results were surprising. During the musical pauses, heart and breathing rates normalized or reached more optimal levels. Whether or not a person liked the style of music did not matter. The tempo, or pace, of the music had the greatest effect on relaxation.
Promotes Post-Stroke Recovery
A daily portion` of one’s favorite pop melodies, classical music or jazz, can speed recovery from debilitating strokes, according to the latest research. When stroke patients in Finland listened to music for a couple of hours each day, verbal memory and attention span improved significantly compared to patients who received no musical stimulation, or who listened only to stories read out loud, the study reports. Listening to classical music improves visual attention in patients with unilateral neglect after stroke.
Recent research has shown that music listening after stroke not only promotes behavioral recovery, but also induces fine-grained neuroanatomical changes in the recovering brain.
Chronic headaches & migraine remedy
Music can help migraine and chronic headache sufferers reduce the intensity, frequency, and duration of the headaches.
Music boosts immunity
Music can boost the immune function. Scientists explain that a particular type of music can create a positive and profound emotional experience, which leads to secretion of immune-boosting hormones. This helps contribute to a reduction in the factors responsible for illness. Listening to music or singing can also decrease levels of stress-related hormone cortisol. Higher levels of cortisol can lead to a decreased immune response.
The latest 2014 study revealed that listening to Mozart K 448 (Sonata for Two Pianos in D major) reduced the seizure recurrence and epileptiform discharges in children epilepsy. The antiepileptic effect of Mozart’s sonata has been earlier demonstrated by Taiwanese scientists.
Using music therapy during childbirth decreased post-natal anxiety and pain, increases the satisfaction with childbirth and reduces the likelihood of postpartum depression.
Music therapy in an early stage of tinnitus can prevent tinnitus from becoming a chronic condition.
Effects of music on the brain
Music activates many regions of the brain, including auditory, motor and limbic (associated with emotions). Such widespread activation of brain explains many beneficial emotional and cognitive music effects.
Music enhances intelligence, learning, and IQ
The idea that music makes you smarter received considerable attention from scientists and the media. Listening to music or playing an instrument can actually make you learn better. And research confirms this.
Music has the power to enhance some kinds of higher brain function:
- Reading and literacy skills
- Spatial-temporal reasoning
- Mathematical abilities– Even children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder benefit in mathematics tests from listening to music beforehand.
- Emotional intelligence
- Recall of autobiographical and episodic information
The Mozart effect
Earlier it has been thought that listening to classical music, particularly Mozart, enhances performance on cognitive tests. However, recent findings show that listening to any music that is personally enjoyable has positive effects on cognition.