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viernes, 22 de noviembre de 2013

How Music Affects and Benefits Your Brain

The music affects many different areas of the brain, as you can see in the image below. We're only scratching the surface with this post, but let's jump in.

I'm a big fan of music and use it a lot when working, but I had no idea about how it really affects our brains and bodies. Music is such a big part of our lives, and we react to it in many ways without even realizing.P

Happy/Sad Music Affects How We See Neutral FacesP

We can usually pick if a piece of music is particularly happy or sad, but this isn't just a subjective idea that comes from how it makes us feel. In fact, our brains actually respond differently to happy and sad music.P
Even short pieces of happy or sad music can affect us. One study showed that after hearing a short piece of music, participants were more likely to interpret a neutral expression as happy or sad, to match the tone of the music they heard. This also happened with other facial expressions, but was most notable for those that were close to neutral. P
Something else that's really interesting about how our emotions are affected by music is that there are two kind of emotions related to music: perceived emotions and felt emotions. This means that sometimes we can understand the emotions of a piece of music without actually feeling them, which explains why some of us find listening to sad music enjoyable, rather than depressing. Unlike in real life situations, we don't feel any real threat or danger when listening to music, so we can perceive the related emotions without truly feeling them—almost like vicarious emotions.P

Our Music Choices Can Predict Our PersonalityP

Take this one with a grain of salt, because it's only been tested on young adults (that I know of), but it's still really interesting.P
In a study of couples who spent time getting to know each other, looking at each other's top ten favorite songs actually provided fairly reliable predictions as to the listener's personality traits. The study used five personality traits for the test: openness to experience, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness and emotional stability.P
Interestingly, some traits were more accurately predicted based on the person's listening habits than others. For instance, openness to experience, extraversion and emotional stability were the easiest to guess correctly. Conscientiousness, on the other hand, wasn't obvious based on musical taste.P
Here is the break-down of how the different genres correspond to our personality, according to a study conducted at Heriot-Watt University:P
  • Blues fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing, gentle, and at easeP
  • Jazz fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing, and at easeP
  • Classical music fans have high self-esteem, are creative, introverts, and at easeP
  • Rap fans have high self-esteem and are outgoingP
  • Opera fans have high self-esteem, are creative, and gentleP
  • Country and western fans are hardworking and outgoingP
  • Reggae fans have high self-esteem, are creative, not hardworking, outgoing, gentle, and at easeP
  • Dance fans are creative and outgoing but not gentleP
  • Indie fans have low self-esteem, are creative, not hard working, and not gentleP
  • Bollywood fans are creative and outgoingP
  • Rock/heavy metal fans have low self-esteem, are creative, not hard-working, not outgoing, gentle, and at easeP
  • Chart pop fans have high self-esteem, are hardworking, outgoing, and gentle, but are not creative and not at easeP
  • Soul fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing, gentle, and at easeP

Classical Music Can Improve Visual AttentionP

It's not just kids that can benefit from musical training or exposure. Stroke patients in one small study showed improved visual attention while listening to classical music.
The study also tried white noise and silence to compare the results, and found that, like the driving study mentioned earlier, silence resulted in the worst scores. Because this study was so small, the conclusions need to be explored further for validation, but I find it really interesting how music and noise can affect our other senses and abilities—in this case, vision.

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