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8 Amazing, Little-Known Ways Music Affects the Brain

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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8 Amazing, Little-Known Ways Music Affects the Brain

8 Amazing, Little-Known Ways Music Affects the Brain

https://buffer.com/resources/music-and-the-brain

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Key Ideas

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. 

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.

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

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.

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

Classical music

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

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

Music helps with making memories from long ago feel relevant again. When you hear a song that had specific meaning to you in the past, the memory of that moment will come back with unbelievable ...

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.

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The music you should listen to for improved productivity
The music you should listen to for improved productivity

....depends on a few factors:

  • How many lyrics the song has.
  • How familiar you are with the song.
  • How repetitive the task
Music between tasks could boost productivity

Although there may be detrimental effects of listening to music while working, listening to music in between tasks can boost your mental performance and the ability to concentrate on a task for long periods of time.

Music familiarity is best for focus

Certain regions in our brain—which evoke strong emotions and improve concentration—are more active when we listen to familiar rather than unfamiliar music.

Plus, when we listen to unfamiliar music we’re more likely to lose focus, while adjusting to the new sound.

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Music helps creativity

One of the most remarkable effects of music on the brain is that it stimulates the release of dopamine, which is a brain mediator that lifts your spirit. We produce 9% more dopamine from...

Ambient for creativity

Moderate noise cultivates creativity, too loud or fast music leaves you hyperstimulated, while complete silence makes your brain bored. 

Music and exercise

Upbeat music makes you feel more energetic while you are exercising. It shifts your focus from the intensity of the exercise. Your body also needs less oxygen during the workout.

The best tempo for exercise is 145BPM. Faster music does not produce more stimulation.

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Music benefits us

One study showed that people with Alzheimer's disease handle their stressful emotions better when they listen to music.

Other studies revealed that certain types of musi...

Music rewards us

In a musical reward experiment, researchers found that music is, in itself, a viable reward to motivate the brain to learn new information. 

Music for better productivity and focus
Music for better productivity and focus
  • Classical music: Songs with no lyrics are often considered the finest form of the craft, always a popular choice.
  • Electronic music is repetitive, ...
Familiar songs are best for focus

It’s best to listen to music you are familiar with if you need intense focus for a project

New music is surprising; since you don’t know what to expect, you are inclined to listen closely to see what comes next.

Lyrics can be distracting

For activities that don’t require concentration, music with lyrics has some benefits. But with immersive tasks, lyrics are especially destructive to our focus.

Trying to engage in language-related tasks ( e.g. writing ) while listening to lyrics would be akin to holding a conversation while another person talks over you… while also strumming a guitar.

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Performer - audience synchrony
Performer - audience synchrony

When you are at a concert and you get to the part with a refrain from your favorite song, you are swept up in the music. The performers and audience seem to be moving as one.

Rese...

Dancing to the same emotions

The synchrony between the brain activity of a performer and his audience shows insights into the nature of musical exchanges: we dance and feel the same emotions together, and our neurons fire together as well. This is especially true when it comes to the more popular performances.

Synchronous brain activity was localized in the left hemisphere of the brain (temporal-parietal junction). This area is important for empathy, the understanding of others’ thoughts and intentions, and verbal working memory used for expressing thought.

Music and the right hemisphere of the brain

The right brain hemisphere is most often associated with the interpretation of musical melody.

In the right hemisphere, synchronization is localized to areas involved in recognizing musical structure and pattern (the inferior frontal cortex) and interpersonal understanding (the inferior frontal and postcentral cortices).

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Background music is powerful
Background music is powerful

Even if you are hardly aware of it, music can be surprisingly powerful.

Researchers have found that it can affect:

  • how much time we think has passed while waiting
  • how co-op...
The background music industry

It is also known as music design, music consultancy, or as part of a broader package of experiential design or sensory marketing.

The work involves creating distinct,  compatible musical identities for brands.

Muzak and background music

Muzak, a brand of background music, set the template for background music. It played in retail stores and other commercial premises and sold itself on the basis that it could increase productivity in workplaces. 

Muzak's template for background music persisted for decades. The music was a balm to ease awkward silences and to encourage and brighten the mood.

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Rock & Roll
Rock & Roll

Growing up in the 50's was a blessing due to a strange beast called Rock & Roll, the sound of which was a siren call to many, and the negative reaction given by the parents was like a certi...

A Different Tune

Rockers like Chuck Berry and Bill Haley, who idolized the legend Louis Jordan, strangely enough, sounded nothing like him. The new rockers, influenced by the previous generation of music, looked and sounded completely original and breathtaking.

Bill Haley and The Comets were a runaway success in 1955, having an R&B style yet a unique sound of their own.

The Riffs of The Generation

... were recorded by producer Sam Phillips of Sun Label including Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis among other stalwarts.

The tunes were mostly rebellious, catering to the teen crowd, and the ‘Marginal Americans’, those living in the ghettos or doing lowly jobs. This segment helped rock & roll explode in the mid-Fifties, making it a social and generational disruption of the highest degree.

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