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8 Amazing, Little-Known Ways Music Affects the Brain

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8 Amazing, Little-Known Ways Music Affects the Brain
I'm a big fan of music, and use it a lot when working, but I had no idea about how it really affects our brains and bodies. Since music is such a big part of our lives, I thought it would be interesting and useful to have a look at some of the ways we react to it without even realizing.

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Happy/sad music

Happy/sad music

Our brains respond differently to happy or sad music.

One study revealed that participants interpreted a neutral expression as happy or sad to match the tone of the music they heard. 

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Ambient noise can improve creativity

A moderate noise level is ideal to improve our creativity. It increases the processing difficulty which stimulates abstract processing, leading to higher creativity. 
High noise levels impair our creative thinking because we feel overwhelmed and struggle to process information properly.

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Music and personality

Different genres correspond to our personality. For instance:

  • Blues and Jazz fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing, gentle and at ease
  • Classical music fans have high self-esteem, are creative, introvert and at ease
  • Opera fans have high self-esteem, are creative and gentle
  • Rock/heavy metal fans have low self-esteem, are creative, not hard-working, not outgoing, gentle, and at ease

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Music can distract our driving

Another study tested drivers while listening to their own choice of music, silence or “safe” music provided by the researchers. The results showed that drivers made more mistakes and drove more aggressively when listening to their own choice of music. Unfamiliar music resulted in safer driving.

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Motor and reasoning skills

One study indicated that children who had three years or more of musical instrument training performed better in:

  • auditory discrimination abilities
  • fine motor skills
  • vocabulary
  • nonverbal reasoning skills

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Classical music

In one small study, stroke patients showed improved visual attention while listening to classical music. Silence resulted in lower scores.

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Music helps us exercise

An American researcher, Leonard Ayres, found that cyclists pedaled faster while listening to music than they did in silence. 

This is because music overrides the signals of fatigue while we are exercising, and our bodies do not realize we are tired.

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Music and memory

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Music improves your focus

This happens because music stimulates the entire brain and not just segments of it. Using this knowledge can help you in various ways.

  • Meditation. Some people use music to help them clear their minds.
  • Listening to music while studying or working can help you remember more of the information.
  • During exercise. It takes the mind’s focus off of fatigue.
  • Focus on sleep. Music calms the mind and causes you to focus on your rest.

Music increases your creativity

Ambient music at 70 decibels will increase specific creative tasks by activating the parts of the brain that think in abstract ways.

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Effects of music on productivity

Effects of music on productivity
  • Listening to music with lyrics is distracting for most people. It’s best to avoid it when working on tasks that require focus or the learning of new information.
  • Listening to

Music and the brain

Music has a real impact on human emotions and perception. Music activates different areas of the brain in different people, but there are general brain and mood patterns revealed by music research.

For the most part, research suggests that listening to music can improve your efficiency, creativity and happiness in terms of work-related tasks. 

Music and work

With so much of our time being spent at work, and so much of our work being done at computers, music has become inseparable from our day-to-day tasks — a way to “optimize the boring” while looking at ...

Music and repetitive tasks

When a task is clearly defined and repetitive in nature, music makes it more enjoyable.

It isn’t the music itself, but rather the improved mood your favorite music brings that will give a boost in productivity.

Ambient noise

Moderate noise level can get creative juices flowing, but the line is easily crossed; loud noises made it incredibly difficult to concentrate. 

Bellowing basses and screeching synths will do you more harm than good when engaging in deep work.