The Effects of Music on the Brain 


It has been shown that both listening to and studying music have a positive impact on our brains, especially for students.

We cannot imagine our lives without music. We are exposed to lullabies and nursery rhymes from the time we were very little. 

The songs that were played on the radio when we were kids or that were listened to by our parents help shape the musical tastes that we have as adults. 

In the end, we come to create our preferences, which we then pass on to the following generation, and so on…

If music can be played anywhere, particularly with the technological means that are currently available, then we must question the influence it has on our brains. 

It is obvious that the woman in the picture enjoys being carried away by the melodies, just like people who play the world’s most popular casino games, but does this have any effect on how it operates? The response that most knowledgeable people give to this query is “yes.”

Direct Effects on The Brain

The saying goes that music softens the mood. And it is not wrong. Indeed, psychologists have noted and experimented for many years on its effects on our moods. 

For example, after listening to quiet classical music, an experiment showed that more people would come to the aid of an experimenter who asked for a favour. However, those who heard an unpleasant melody volunteered much less.

Soothing music is also known to be a painkiller, making medical activities less painful. Although it is often associated with villains in movies, classical music is said to decrease violence in people. 

And while techno beats are ideal during physical performance sessions, cartoon beats are said to have an impact on students’ arithmetic scores.

Moreover, the effects of music on the brain are of great interest to schools. Could it help the learner assimilate concepts? After all, as soon as a person hears music, some 30 brain regions are activated, particularly those related to language and motor skills.

Health care facilities often play music for people with advanced Alzheimer’s disease to help them get out of their slumber. 

But can listening to classical music, as Disney’s Baby Einstein: Baby Mozart product line claimed, really turn kids into geniuses? Sadly, no. There is no evidence that passive listening increases intelligence.

But learning to music does work. Since it stimulates the hippocampus, it is easier to remember things in a song.  

Thus, some applications like Spotify, for example, offer young students to revise their courses with a playlist of songs in the background that helps focus and motivate them. A way to remember more easily the studied elements.

Any Effect on Learning? 

Until now, few studies had successfully shown a link between music education and improved student skills. Now, in the spring of 2018, a paper published in Frontiers in Neuroscience has caused a stir. 

The research was done in the Netherlands over two years with 147 students. These were randomly divided into four groups: two taking music instruction, one was given visual arts instruction, and the last was a control group. 

The visual arts students received an education in which they attempted to master painting, sculpture, and various art materials in addition to receiving theory on art history. 

Music students learned to play various instruments, the basics of music, and how to improvise. At the beginning of the day, the students performed the welcome song. 

It allows students to get to know each other, discover music together, share their musical culture, and open them completely to the world, as it is not only cerebral but also a social phenomenon that has only grown since its discovery.

The researchers later analyzed the different performances in various academic tasks. Those in the art curriculum showed better visual and spatial memory, while those in the music program showed great improvement in everything from verbal IQ to task planning and inhibition. 

The scientists also thought they noticed a slight increase in the academic performance of these students. Nothing defies imagination, but it influences learning, concentration, etc.

In a context where music classes are often the most neglected in schools since they require substantial investments (including musical instruments), this study unwittingly brings arguments to those who demand better music education in schools. 

Learning to play an instrument has beneficial effects on learners. It remains to be seen whether many schools will be tempted to add more music and art to the curriculum.

Chris Price

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