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MUSICAL BRAIN: living like a fiddle!

MUSICAL BRAIN: living like a fiddle!
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Elena Vanina “When you don’t want to lose, but the situation obliges,” Feelings series, paper, capillary pen, 30×42 cm, 2021


Neurophysiologists say that our brain decides a lot of things for us. It also decides what kind of music we like. But music is capable of influencing our brain to a large extent: to heal, to teach, to correct our feelings and biorhythms.




Not all music is equally beneficial. Czech scientists from Masaryk University in Brno have published recent research on how different music affects the brains of patients suffering from epilepsy. Before surgery, doctors implanted electrodes in the volunteers’ nerve tissue to localize the epileptic focus and monitored the response of the brain.

As a result, they found that patients who listened to Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 2 had 32 percent less epileptiform activity. Music by other composers had no such effect. Moreover, Haydn’s 94th Symphony, for example, even increased it by 45%.

Long before the Czech experiment, biologists had discovered that listening to your favorite music forms special circuits between the centers of hearing and pleasure. Interestingly, people without special musical preferences, who have no favorite music,  don not have such circuits at all. They are not formed.




Music lovers produce dopamine just like the pleasure of achieving a goal. The brain rewards a person for listening to music just as much as it rewards for sweet and fatty food or efforts to procreate.

Robert Zatorre of the Montreal Institute of Neuroscience found that the brain only needs 30 seconds to form a musical preference, which is how long it takes to decide whether you like the music or not.

But the impact of Mozart’s music clearly goes beyond “just fun”. 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 the excessive synchronization of the “brain waves” that lead to the development of epileptic seizures, tremor and other disorders in the work of consciousness and memory. Alas, not all music has turned out to be capable of this.




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

Scientists divided the subjects into groups by age and alternately played them Mozart’s sonatas and Beethoven’s “To Elise”. The detected effect (which they called the “Mozart effect”), which activated neural connections, significantly improved memory and cognitive abilities.

Beethoven, oddly enough, did not produce such an effect. But American physicians didn’t stop there and ran baroque music through MRI scans. They obtained convincing data that compositions created almost 300 years ago help collect thoughts, improve memory, process a large flow of information, and solve unfamiliar tasks much metter.



U.S. Department of Homeland Security conducted an experiment that was to study the combination of different frequencies, duration and amplitude of the musical compositions. Subjects were given different tracks to listen to and monitored their state, recording the transition from tension to relaxation.

Most of the music that had a calming effect was a variety of classical pieces. The cortisol levels in the blood of those who listened to the music decreased. In some cases, a sedative and analgesic effect was noticeable. Chopin was statistically the most calmin and anti-stress composer.




There is a widespread belief that heavy music such as heavy metal, as opposed to classical music, has a negative effect on humans. However, recent research from the Australian University of Queensland suggests that such music contributes to emotional let-out, during which there is not an accumulation, and the release of aggression.

The Australian researchers played punk rock, screaming and metal to 39 subjects. And they asked them questions that annoyed them and made them angry. During the interview, the music was alternately turned on and off.

Listening to the tracks calmed the experiment participants, and their aggression is not switched on the interlocutor, but on the musical perception. Although, perhaps heavy music does not work on everyone, but on a certain type of person.




The observations of psychologist Kelly Schwartz show that fans of heavy metal – are independent individuals, tend. However, they underestimate their self-esteem and doubt the made choice and are in a kind of internal conflict.

Fans of pop music and hip-hop are focused on an active rotation in society, on the balance between their own desires and the opinion of others. Jazz and classical music are gravitated by researchers with a logical type of thinking, who were brought up in a favorable environment. But the omnivorous music lovers who like different trends and styles are the most adaptive, they can easily avoid conflict and adapt to rapidly changing realities.




In general, our musical tastes are directly influenced by our brain’s biorhythms. For example, for choleric people are characterized by a high amplitude of biorhythms, for melancholic people – low. It is not surprising that the first prefer fast tracks (the same hard rock), the second – with pleasure for a long time to follow the development of harmony in jazz and classical music.

A phlegmatic will get the greatest pleasure from guitar overdubs, and a sanguine – from a minor ballad. Studies have shown that extroverts experience more intense emotions while listening and can 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 sad or active. Therefore, when we choose music, we can regulate our own feelings.


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