Music and Emotions
Have you ever met anybody who didn’t like music at all? Anybody living their life without listening to anything whatsoever? Such people exist and make about 5-7% of Earth’s population. Scientists from McGill University (Canada) scanned the brain activity of 45 healthy subjects while they were listening to music in order to figure out how the brain of people not interested in music works: some of them were actual anti-music lovers. It turns out that when these people listen to music, there forms no connection between the area responsible for music processing and reward center in the brain. Whereas gambling and winning still make them feel good and experience pleasure and joy.
This research, as the authors explain, will help us better understand why people love music, and it can also be helpful for medical research. For instance, it can give us an idea about the reasons of neurological disorders which weaken the sense of reward or motivation: depression, apathy, insubstantial and harmful addictions.
Another research conducted by the University of Helsinki (Finland), Aarhus University (Denmark) and the University of Bari (Italy) proved that love to music is defined by genetics and depends on the function of neuro-mediator called dopamine. It helps people anticipate pleasure, remember it and reach for it despite any discomfort. The scientists noted that having listened to music the subjects of their experiments experienced functional changes in their dopamine receptors, which improved their mood. The researchers also noticed that it was the first research, which demonstrated that music affects the physical structure of the brain.
Cheerful music or sad – it doesn’t matter
All kinds of music can positively affect human brain. Researchers from Great Britain and Finland found out that several people like to listen to sad and dark music that improves their mood. Moreover, they start feeling more comfortable as the music makes them contemplate their experiences. The scientists point out a paradox: people normally feel strange sense of satisfaction after emotionally reacting to tragic art such as music, cinema, painting, etc. Japanese psychologists assume that this phenomenon has to do with how people unite sorrow with romantic feelings. Besides, sad music is not deemed as a threat to the body, but as a way to let out psychological stress and “switch” to outer source of sorrow instead of concentrating on the inner one.
Nonetheless, listening to optimistic, cheering music positively affects creative abilities and team-working skills (the so-called soft skills). Researcher from Netherlands conducted creativity tests among a few groups of people. The first group listened to positive music, the second one to sad, the third to calming and the final one to intense music. The control group finished their test in complete silence. The test demonstrates that those who listened to positive music showed the best results: more creative and practical solutions.
A rather unusual research had been conducted by the University of Cornwall, which showed that listening to heavy metal music makes people less communicative and reduces their readiness to do something for common good. The researchers made several groups of tested subjects play a game during which the players could “donate” their personal points to improve their team’s score. Some of the teams were listening to such songs as “Yellow Submarine”, “Katrina and the Waves”, “Walking on Sunshine” and others while other teams were listening to heavy metal and other genres alike. Eventually, the players from the first team were more glad to share their points than those who listened to dark music.
Why do we need music?
There is a reason why they say that mental approach has an important role in controlling emotions and productive work. Researchers from Aalto University and the University of Jyväskylä (Finland), and Aarhus University (Denmark) discovered that intentions behind listening to music also affect emotional state.
Scientists scanned subjects’ brains while they were listening to sad, aggressive and dark music. Most of the male subjects noted in their questionnaires that they listen to such music to express their negative emotions while most of the female subjects generally do it to distract themselves from such emotions. The MRI scan results indicated that most of women show increased activity in the brain area responsible for emotional control whereas most of men experience the opposite. Usually, such a drop of brain activity correlates with inability to switch between emotional states, which leads to depression and related disorders.
Music is a painkiller
Listening to your favorite music can help you with pain. Two medical institutions in USA tested musical therapy on patients after spinal operations. They were suggested to rate the levels of their pain before and after. Those who undergone the musical therapy felt less pain than those who didn’t.
Is loud better for business?
Who could’ve thought that loud music makes people drink more alcohol in less amount of time? A group of French scientists went on a pub tour in order to prove that. With permission from pub owners they experimented with the music volume and observed the patrons in order to answer questions like “How fast do they drink? How much do they order?” They focused on the actions of 40 men in the age of 18-25. The researchers assumed that changes in the speed of drinking alcohol consumed in pubs are caused by the volume of the music because louder sounds cause more excitation and desire to eat and drink. Besides, high volume prevents the customers from communicating with each other.
Music can also make your beer taste better! A very interesting experiment was conducted by Brussels Beer Project company in association with British scientists. More than 300 participants divided into 3 groups tasted the same beer of the same brand. The first group didn’t know the name of the brand and didn’t listen to music. The second group knew the name of the brand they were drinking, but didn’t listen to music. The third group knew the brand and was listening to music. The survey showed that the third group enjoyed the beer most of all, which confirms that sound affects the taste. The researches also intend to use their results to find out if music can motivate people to eat healthy food, for instance.
Music makes you sexier
Charles Darwin himself noted that one of the possible reasons for music always being a part of human culture is the fact that it is a natural follow-up to animals’ mating calls. Vienna University scientists decided to test that theory and see if men and women consider each other more attractive if they had been listening to music not long before.
Groups of men and women participated in the experiment. Some of them were invited to listen to music beforehand and others were not. They were all shown photos of people of opposite sex and asked if they found him/her attractive and if they would go out with him/her. The amount of positive answers didn’t change whether or not they had been listening to music beforehand; the women, however, had a drastic difference in results. Those of them who listened to music before the experiment gave positive answers more frequently and found more attractive people on the photos.
That’s why researchers assumed that for women musical abilities and general creativity can be considered as partial compensation for their physical disadvantages.
Curious fact: kittens hate heavy metal
Everybody hates that one neighbor, who plays loud and noisy music all day long. But what about kittens?
A group of Portuguese scientists decided to figure out how cats respond to different music genres. The animals were equipped with headphones and listened to classic, pop and metal music being castrated under narcosis. In order to estimate how calm they were they measured their breathing rate and checked their pupils. Just as humans, the cats relaxed to classic music and got tense listening to AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck”.
What are binaural beats?
Binaural beats are a kind of mind grasping technology. They affect your brainwaves which, in turn, change the state of your consciousness. Binaural beats were first discovered in 1839 by Heinrich Wilhelm Dove and deemed a scientific gimmick up until 1973 when Gerald Oster published an article named “Auditory Beatsd in the Brain”. Oster’s work brought up new ideas as well as several practical results for Dove’s research. Thus, a revolution in the field of neurophysiology had begun. Binaural beats are very interesting for neurophysiologists researching hearing.
What kind of health benefits do binaural beats allegedly have?
Binaural beats allegedly help achieve the same mental state as you experience practicing meditation but much faster. In fact, binaural beats can:
- reduce anxiety
- boost concentration and attention
- reduce stress
- help with relaxation
- develop positive attitude
- develop creativity
- help overcome pain
It is believed that binaural beats in the range of 1-30 Hz create the same brainwave pattern as the one a person experiences during meditation. When you listen to a sound with a certain frequency, your brainwaves sync up with that frequency. The theory behind this is that binaural beats can help create a frequency necessary for your brain to create the same waves that occur during practicing meditation. Using binaural beats this way is sometimes called brainwave grasping technology.
How to use binaural beats?
All you for experimenting with binaural beats is the binaural beat sound and headphones. You can easily find binaural beats audio files on-line, for instance, on YouTube, buy CD’s or download audio files directly to your mp3-player or any other device. As was said earlier, for binaural beat to have effect 2 tones must have frequencies lower than 1000 Hz, and the difference between these tones can’t exceed 30 Hz.
You’ll need to decide which brainwave matches the state you desire to achieve. All in all:
Delta-waves binaural beats (1 to 4 Hz) are responsible for deep sleep and relaxation.
Theta-waves binaural beats (4 to 8 Hz) are responsible for REM, anxiety reduction, relaxation as well as meditative and creative states.
Alpha-waves binaural beats (8 to 13 Hz) help relax, increase positivity and reduce anxiety.
Beta-waves binaural beats (14 to 30 Hz) are responsible for boosting concentration, attention and awareness, problem solving and memory improvement.
Find a comfortable place, free of distracting factors. Just listen to the sound of the binaural beat for at least 30 minutes every day via headphones to make sure that the beat grasps (syncs up) the brain completely.
Are there any researches confirming these statements?
Though most of the researches about binaural beats effects weren’t significant, there are a few that provide evidence that this auditory illusion actually does have benefits for health and helps with anxiety, mood swings and productivity.
One blind research conducted among 29 people demonstrated that listening to beta-waves binaural beats (16 and 24 Hz) helped improve productivity during fulfilling a difficult task as well as reverse bad mood in comparison to theta-waves binaural beats (1,5 and 4 Hz) or plain white noise.
During another uncontrolled research 8 adults listened to a binaural beat CD with delta-frequencies (1 to 4 Hz) for 60 days straight. Participants filled out blanks before and after a 60-day period: they answered questions about their mood and quality of life. The results of the research showed that listening to binaural beats for 60 days significantly reduces anxiety and improved general quality of life for these participants. As this research was minor, uncontrolled and based on participants’ surveys as source data much greater researches will be needed to confirm these effects.
One major trustworthy source studied utilization of binaural beats among 291 patients admitted to ER in a hospital. The researchers observed significant anxiety drop among the patients who listened to the sounds with binaural beats in comparison to those who listened to plain music or didn’t listen to anything at all.
Without doubt music affects us. Researches prove that binaural beats have the same effect as music plus their own unique ones. Try to analyze what your favorite music makes you feel. Try practicing meditation with binaural beats and make your own conclusions.