How Music Affects the Brain: Enhance Learning, Attitude, and Health

how music affects the brain

A mother watches as her young son concentrates intently on placing his fingers just so on the fret of his guitar.  He may never be another Les Paul, but she is convinced it is not just a coincidence that his attitude towards school, along with his school work, have improved since she agreed to let him take guitar lessons.

It was difficult to muster the energy to get around to cleaning the garage, but the wife has had it on her “Honey Do” list for the last six weeks and, although she’s the most patient person he’s ever met, even her patience was wearing thin.  So, hubby pushes himself up and off the couch on.

Saturday morning, puts on his ipod, and goes to work.  He’d intended to limit his efforts to simply moving things closer together and sweeping the floor, but four hours later his garage could compete with Mr. Overly Organized who lives next door.

Grandpa worked for over thirty years as a Master Carpenter, and swinging a hammer, along with all the other bodily harm associated with the building trades, has resulted in some pretty significant consistent pain.  Surprisingly, sitting back and just listening to whatever music happens to seem appealing can often help the pain to subside better than the endless round NSAID anti-inflammatory drugs.

There is strong scientific evidence that music has the ability to enhance three areas in our lives that vastly improve the quality of our lives:

  • Music enhances learning
  • Music enhances attitude
  • Music enhances healing

Music Enhances Learning

That mother who thought it was no coincidence that her son was doing better in school and starting guitar lessons wasn’t off the mark.  Scientific studies have shown a distinct relationship between improved learning capability and music.  One study conducted by the University of California at Irvine showed that pre-school age children who received daily lessons for either playing a musical instrument or singing were significantly better able to put complete a puzzle than those who did not receive the training.

how music affects the brainThis is only one example of a multitude of studies all of which indicate that playing music (and/or singing) enhances learning.  There is still much more research needed, however, it is felt that musical training enhances abstract learning.

Abstract learning is the most complex type of learning.  It is the ability to solve problems, to figure something out by coming to a logical conclusion derived from observations.  In other words, you make a few observations that cause you to think something is probably true, or works a certain way, or happened for a particular reason – and then you come up with ways to “test” if your observations are actually true.  This is also called “abstract reasoning”, which (among other things) means that music can enhance our ability to learn about the world and their place in it by:

  • Forming a theory about the nature of ideas, and objects
  • Solving problems using such theories
  • Analyzing and evaluating ideas and objects
  • Solving problems by using abstract methods such as using analogies or metaphors

Learning to play an instrument or voice training (singing) also appears to create what neuroscientists call “neural pathways” – which we can think of as the highways our brains use to retrieve information.

Music Enhances Attitude

For our purposes, let’s agree that here the word “attitude” here refers to both mood and motivation – and music has the ability to enhance both.  Take the example we used of the husband who was much less than motivated to clean out his garage.  However, blasting some of his favorite tunes as he worked resulted in his accomplishing much more than the “once over” he intended.

Most of us have experienced a similar affect when listening to music.  Perhaps the best example is listening to music when exercising.  It is very easy to have music not only quicken our pace, but also for us to “stick with it” longer – say by walking or running an extra mile or two.

Again, science bears this out.  For instance, a graduate student at Mankoto State University wanted to find out the affect music had on attitude and achievement.  He had one group listen to music during biology lab and one group that did not listen to music.  What he discovered is that, which there was no significant difference in the level of achievement or attitude between the two groups – the group who listened to music spent more time in the laboratory.

So, what was enhanced (at least measurably) was the student’s motivation.  This is exactly what happened to the fellow listening to music while cleaning out his garage.  While this particular graduate student did not feel that either attitude or achievement were affected by music, abstract reasoning seems to find his conclusion incorrect.  After all, a spectacularly clean garage versus pushing stuff around, as well as working out faster and longer than usual both appear to indicate a better attitude about doing these things.  Not to mention achieving more than was expected or usual.

 Watch this video to learn more about how to put quantum energy into music

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Music Enhances Healing

Years ago Robert De Niro starred in a film called “Awakenings”.  The movie was actually the story of Dr. Oliver Sacks’ experience working with patients who had contracted a disease called viral encephalitis lethargica.  In his book of the same name as the movie, Dr. Sacks reported that this illness rendered them essentially motionless and unable to speak, or if able to speak, their voices “…lacked tone and force.  They were almost specteral.”

how music affects the brainBut they did not sound like ghosts when singing.  Rather, they were able to sing “loudly and clearly”.  Dr. Sacks is a neurologist who has also reported the healing power of music when working with patients suffering from Alzheimer’s, head injury, and stroke.  Other medical research has also shown music to help reduce the suffering of persons with diseases and conditions that negatively impact their nervous system (which includes our brains.)  For instance, someone with a head injury often develops aphasia – they cannot speak because they cannot “find” the words.  However, quite often patients have little difficulty “singing” when they want to express themselves.

In the case of brain injury or disease, it appears that music once again is able to create new, or follow different than usual, neural pathways.  These pathways can enhance conditions such as damaged memory function or impaired ability to speak.

Music can also stimulate healing by stimulating the production of certain hormones.  One example of this is an increase in the level of oxytocin.  This  hormone functions to reduce blood pressure, reduce anxiety, enhance relaxation – and it also has a role in promoting both growth and healing.

Music Enhances Your Brain

Our brains impact learning, attitude (mood and motivation), and healing.  Learning about ourselves, others, and our world improves the quality and meaning of our lives.  It logically follows that music’s impact on the brain has the ability to positively affect our ability to learn, our attitude, and our health.

The building blocks of music are pitch, harmony, melody, rhythm.  Each one of these components are actually waves – and these waves vibrate at various frequencies.

Those of us familiar with the techniques of quantum jumping are certainly not surprised at the science of how music affects not only our brains, but can also positively enhance the very quality of our lives.  Quantum physics demonstrates that everything, from the tiniest particle to the tallest building in the world, are all fundamentally waves that vibrate.  Additionally waves that are similar (have shared qualities such as freqency) attract and cohere (stick) to each other.

It follows that the waves that make up music affect our brains.  The trick is to find the types of music that positively affect your brain.  It isn’t only classical music that can enhance learning or relax – especially if it doesn’t resonate with you.

Not certain what that music might be?  Don’t feel you have the talent needed to play an instrument or sing?  Quantum jumping techniques can assist.

>>>Learn how to develop the power of your mind – sign up for the free lessons of Burt Goldman’s Quantum Jumping