How Does Music Affect Your Brain?

On a typical day, I listen to several genres of music, based on the mood I’m in and the activity I’m doing at the time. You could say I have an eclectic taste in music, but I know what genres help me focus and others that entertain me. I normally listen to classical music when studying, epic film scores when writing and pop/rock to let loose. There are so many genres of music for us to choose from, but studies have shown that certain genres affect the brain in a variety of ways.

To fully understand how different genres of music make you feel and how your brain reacts to it, we need to understand what is going on inside your brain. There are four major parts of the lobe of the brain, and each part is engaged when music enters. There is not a set path that music travels in the brain, because in many songs, so many factors are changing all the time, so it is more like a tennis match. The cerebellum and auditory cortex work together at the beginning when music first enters the brain; breaking down the basics; pitch and volume. The amygdala controls the emotions that we feel when we listen to music, causing a reaction. The cerebellum connects the basic information to the amygdala and then that leads to a dopamine rush. The dopamine rush is when we feel pleasure from a song and get chills during a particular section of a song. The caudate, a subregion of the striatum is what controls this emotional response. What your brain’s feeling. Now that you have a basic understanding of what is going on inside your brain, let’s look a little closer a specific genres.

In 1993, a study called the Mozart Effect came to the public, stating that listening to classical music can make a child smarter. Mozart makes babies smarter. The BBC reported on a story about the potential greater intelligence when listening to classical music. In several adults, the study found them to have the “ability to manipulate shapes,” but the benefits were short-lived. BBC study. Back to the dopamine rush in the brain, a Prezi presentation stated that while listening to classical music stress hormones were released because there was a calm

pleasure felt when listening to it. So classical must make people more calm and that is why maybe they are found to be more intelligent. Prezi’s Take.

On a completely different spectrum, pop music gets the blood pumping and makes you less calm. The auditory cortex sends messages to the brain, relaying that the music has rhythmic beat and makes the person want to dance and sing. Therefore being a distraction, and probably not that helpful when studying. Prezi Pop.  Most pop music is repetitive and catchy, making it easier to get in your head and bother you. While on the other hand, classical music is more complex with different sections and coming up with new ideas.

People are different, their brains don’t all work the same way, different music makes people feel different things. I may be able to study with intense film scores in the background and someone may be able to study with Katy Perry on. Everyone is different. So there is a definite correlation between classical music and having a little better grades. But honestly it just comes to the person’s preferences of what they like. BBC. So don’t think that by listening to classical music you will instantly be smarter. Find the music that makes you less distracted and able to concentrate. I have found mine and it is classical, so find yours.

Here are two songs to compare how your brain reacts to each one:

9 thoughts on “How Does Music Affect Your Brain?

  1. Pingback: How Music Genres Affect the Brain | itssaraglows

  2. Natalia P Loureiro

    Wow, I find it amazing how something so abstract like music can make us our brains produce dopamine! That is ridiculously surprising since music is something humans produce by making random sounds and arranging them together! How awesome. Your post really made me think about why certain beats and rhythms affect our brains differently. Why does classical calm it while pop agitates it? Why do multiple strong beats make us energized while instrumental ones make us calm and serene? Why isn’t it the other way around? I personally love music and would live to dive more into why music has such complex elements that affect our minds differently depending on the genre. Have you ever heard of music therapy? Many say music can heal and even ancient groups of people sometimes used music for medicinal purposes. Overall, music is just an astounding natural phenomenon and I hope science can truly master its hidden functions and affects on humans.

  3. Gwyneth Mulliken

    This post is awesome because I love music! I believe that music affects us in many ways but can not change our dynamic. It’s been proven to stimulate different emotions or make us feel certain ways, but it certainty can not directly make us smarter, or more athletic. But it may have the power to make you focus on your work which may increase your studying abilities. There are also many theories that say it increases your endurance when working out. I however, can not listen to music when reading or studying.
    This article is pretty cool.

  4. Philip Littleton

    This post was kind of similar to mine – it’s crazy how music alone can manipulate the brain! It was really neat how you used the two different songs as examples of how two different genres of music correlate with two separate sentiments. After reading that post, it really makes me wonder what changes in the brain cause others to like music more than some who can live without music entirely.

  5. Shunyi Yu

    It’s interesting to see that different types of music stimulate the brain in different ways. And it also relates to Biopsychology. This post attracts me because I don’t have any music in my phone or computer, and I don’t like listening to musics at all, although sometimes I listen to musics while I’m at restaurants and malls. I always cannot understand people listening to music while doing homeworks but now i understand that people are different, their brains don’t all work the same way, different music makes people feel different things. And I am curious how does the brain works for people like me that doesn’t like listening to music at all.

  6. Holly Rubin

    This is a very interesting topic because all different types of music stimulate the brain in different ways. Because of this I am prone to having dozens of different playlists on my phone. For example, a get hyped playlist for the gym, a slower and smoother playlist for going to sleep, and fast, up beat playlist for waking me up in the morning. The one playlist i could never figure out is one for doing homework. I never know what type of music is brain stimulating instead of distracting.

  7. czc5448

    This is a very interesting experiment especially depending on the types of genres and how they may effect your brain. Personally, I like to listen to music when I study. I seem to get a lot more done and it helps me focus more. It’s a cool experiment to see how different genres of music affect you brain versus not listening to music at all. Like you said, people are all different and will have different ways about studying and I completely agree. I agree with Emily in that it would be very interesting to test this.

  8. Emily Miles Whiteman

    I like that you provided two completely different genres of music to test the brain’s response to each soundtrack. I personally cannot listen to music at all when I study. I find the constant sound of background music to be extremely distracting, regardless of the type or genre. I think it would be interesting to compare the brain’s response to silence to the brain’s response to music while studying. Maybe music stimulates the brain more than silence, and potentially provokes more thought while studying. Or maybe the brain correlates thoughts to the music, so that the next time you hear that particular song, the brain automatically ties it back to the biology information you studied the night before. It would definitely be an interesting thing to test!

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