There’s no question that music can impact our mood. But, it also impacts the way we interact with the world on a deeper level by improving cognitive functioning. Just playing some tunes in the background helps keep your brain sharp and engaged as you age. According to Time, music helps to activate various parts of the brain that are associated with emotional regulation, mood improvement, attention and memory. In turn, each of these leads to better brain health outcomes.
In fact, the mental health benefits of meditation may look a lot like the side effects of listening to music. “Both meditation and music listening are potentially powerful tools for improving overall health and well-being,” Kim Innes, a professor of epidemiology at West Virginia University’s School of Public Health, told the outlet.
However, the type of music you play obviously can make a difference — you’re likely not going to feel serene after blasting heavy metal. The outlet notes that some types of music can induce stress and even ruminating thoughts. Since the beats of the songs you play can regulate your heart rate, more intense rhythms can have a negative effect on your emotional state while softer, more relaxed tones do the opposite. However, what people find soothing can be subjective.
Speaking about a study he helped conduct, Daniel Levitin, a professor of psychology, explained, “These were people who normally listened to Swedish speed metal, so to them AC/DC was soothing. There’s no one piece of music that will do the same thing for everyone.”
Music helps to exercise the brain
Just like sudoku puzzles and crosswords, listening to music offers another opportunity to give your brain a good workout, keeping it sharper and better equipped throughout your life. “There are few things that stimulate the brain the way music does,” an otolaryngologist tells Johns Hopkins Medicine. “If you want to keep your brain engaged throughout the aging process, listening to or playing music is a great tool. It provides a total brain workout.”
Besides impacting basic neurological processes like mood regulation and emotional response, listening to music involves a fair amount of computation. By trying to follow the beats and remember the lyrics, your brain is getting a fair amount of exercise. “Music is structural, mathematical and architectural. It’s based on relationships between one note and the next. You may not be aware of it, but your brain has to do a lot of computing to make sense of it,” another otolaryngologist adds.
The outlet goes on to offer a variety of cognitive areas that listening to music can benefit. Between boosting your creativity, improving your memory and helping you get in touch with your body, your music choices can provide tons of benefits. By finding the type or genres that work for you, you can keep yourself feeling good and thinking even better.
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