Melodies for the Mind

by Meera Mathew     We all listen to music; in fact, the average American listens to about 25 hours of music a week. The phrase “Music is good for the soul” is a saying we’ve all heard, but did you know that it is also good for your health? 

Many studies show positive effects of music on physical and psychological problems. These include dementia, anxiety, depression, and cancer. Studies show that listening to music can help elevate your mood, aid relaxation, and help the brain process more effectively. 

Starting at a young age, listening to music can have a beneficial effect. Dean Alban, a writer at, says “Children with musical backgrounds do better in subjects like language, reading, and math and have better fine motor skills than their non-musical classmates.” 

Neuromusicology is the study of the effects music has on the brain and how the nervous system reacts to music. Research on this topic informs us that music stimulates all parts of the brain. This is why musicians generally have a better memory, auditory skills and cognitive flexibility (the ability to think about multiple concepts simultaneously.) 

Listening to music can cause the brain to release different chemicals. For example, it increases the neurotransmitter dopamine, a chemical that makes us  feel content. In addition, listening to live music or music with others also stimulates oxytocin, a molecule that helps us bond with and trust others. Some evidence shows that people who get an oxytocin pump from listening to music are proven to be more generous and trustworthy. 

Music can also help us while we are working. Software engineers have been reported to produce higher quality and more efficient work while listening to music. Surgeons said they were less stressed and more accurate while operating, and athletes said that it helps them from “choking under pressure.” 

It’s safe to say that music is not only fun to listen to, but also helps us in many more ways than we can imagine. By listening to just a couple of hours of music each day, we are helping our brains more than we think.


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