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THE MUSICAL BRAIN: living like a musical note!

THE MUSICAL BRAIN: living like a musical note!
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Elena Vanina. When you don’t want to lose but the position obliges, series «Feelings», paper, capillary pen, 30×42 cm, 2021


Neurophysiologists declare — our brain decides a lot of things for us. Including the kind of music we like. But music, it turns out, is also able to influence our brain to a considerable extent: to treat, teach, and correct our feelings and biorhythms.




Not all music is equally useful. Czech scientists from Masaryk University in Brno have published data from a recent study of how different music affects the brains of patients with epilepsy. Before surgery, doctors implanted electrodes into the volunteers’ nervous tissue to localize the epileptic focus and monitor the brain’s response.

As a result, they found that patients who listened to Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos had a 32% decrease in epileptiform activity. Music by other composers had no similar effect. Moreover, Haydn’s Symphony No. 94, for example, even increased it by 45%.

Long before the Czech experiment, biologists discovered that listening to favorite music forms special chains between the centers of hearing and pleasure. Interestingly, such chains are not formed at all in people without special musical preferences and who do not have favorite music.




Music lovers, on the other hand, produce dopamine — just like the pleasure of achieving a goal. The brain rewards a person for listening to music as much as for sweet and fatty food or the efforts aimed at reproduction.

Robert Zatorre from the Institute of Neuroscience in Montreal has established: to form a musical preference, the brain needs only 30 seconds — that’s how long it takes to decide whether you like this music or not.

However, the impact of Mozart’s music clearly goes beyond «mere pleasure». According to Czech doctors, its positive effect on the brain is not related to the pleasure of listening. Mozart’s works have a pronounced physiotherapeutic effect.

They reduce excessive synchronization of «brain waves», leading to the development of epileptic seizures, tremors, and other disorders in the work of consciousness and memory. Unfortunately, not all music has been shown to be so capable.




Earlier, American colleagues of Czech doctors from Stanford University Medical Center found with the help of MRI that Mozart’s music activates attention and improves its concentration. Interestingly, the peak of brain activity in this case falls on pauses, and the relaxed brain concentrates during the period of silence, the gap between sounds.

The scientists divided the subjects into groups by age and alternately included them sonatas by Mozart and «Letter to Elise» by Beethoven. The discovered effect (which they called the «Mozart effect») of activating neural connections significantly improved memory and cognitive abilities.

Beethoven, oddly enough, produced no such effect. However, American physicians did not stop there and ran through MRI measurements of Baroque music. They received convincing data that compositions created almost 300 years ago help to gather thoughts, improve memory, process a large flow of information, and better solve unfamiliar tasks.


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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security conducted an experiment that consisted of studying the combination of different frequencies, duration, and amplitude of musical compositions. Test subjects were given different tracks to listen to, and their state was observed, recording the transition from tension to relaxation.

Most of the music that had a calming effect was various versions of classical pieces. Cortisol levels in the blood of those who listened to them decreased. In some cases, sedative and analgesic effects were noticeable. Statistically, the most calming, anti-stress composer was Chopin.




There is a common belief that heavy music, like heavy metal, as opposed to classical music, has a negative effect on people. However, recent research from Australia’s University of Queensland suggests that such music promotes emotional release, during which there is not an accumulation but a release of aggression.

The Australian scientists played punk rock, screamo, and metal music to 39 subjects. And asked them questions that annoyed them, pissed them off. During the interviews, the music was alternately turned on and off.

Listening to the tracks calmed down the participants of the experiment, and their aggression was switched not to the interlocutor but to the musical perception. Although, perhaps, heavy music does not affect everyone, but a certain type of personality.




Observations of psychologist Kelly Schwartz show that fans of heavy music are independent individuals who tend to underestimate their self-esteem, doubt their choices and are in some kind of internal conflict.

Fans of pop music and hip-hop are oriented to active rotation in society, the balance between their own desires and the opinions of others. Jazz and classics gravitate to researchers with a logical type of thinking who were brought up in a favorable environment. But omnivorous music lovers who like different flows and styles, the most adaptable, they easily manage to avoid conflicts and adapt to the rapidly changing realities.




In general, our musical tastes directly depend on the biorhythms of our brain. For example, cholerics are characterized by a high amplitude of biorhythms and melancholics — low. No wonder that the former prefer fast tracks (the same as hard rock), the latter — with pleasure for a long time following the development of harmony in jazz and classical.

Phlegmatic will get the highest pleasure from guitar overloads and sanguine — from a minor ballad. Studies have shown that extroverts experience more intense emotions when listening to music and are able to feel the music more deeply than introverts.

In turn, both the tempo and the nature of the song can also influence our biorhythms, making us feel sad or active. Therefore, by choosing music, we can regulate our own feelings.


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