Unlike air, food, physical safety or reproduction, music is not essential for humankind. But even though music is not a precondition for survival of the species, virtually all people in the world passionately engage with music. And listening to music is not only pleasant, but has amazing effects on a human being.
Many studies explain how listening to music activates the same euphoric centre as drugs, food or sex. The limbic system and the brain core are areas linked to emotional response and rewards. When the neurotransmitter dopamine is released, we perceive a pleasant feeling.
The Power of Music
McGill University in Canada undertook a study in which they made ten patients listen to different melodies, as they did a Positron Emission Tomography. The limbic system activated itself when the patients listened to a song they liked. Not only did they find a clear neurologic response, but also an increase in the heart and respiratory rate, and an increase in their body temperature. All these signs belong to the physical response to happiness.
Each emotion produces different physical responses. In other words, sadness lowers the heart rate and increases both blood pressure and body temperature, whilst happiness can have the opposite effect.
Patients reacted differently to melodies depending on the tone and rhythm they had. A slow, mellow song in a low-pitched scale would produce sadness, whereas a faster rhythm and sharp notes would produce happiness. Musical therapy tries to reduce anxiety or depression symptoms by taking into account this knowledge.
Music can have more effects in the brain than we can imagine. If the limbic system is related to the emotional response to melodies, the tone of a song actually activates the prefrontal cortex, the cerebellum and the temporal lobe. On the other hand, the lyrics of a song will stimulate the language areas of the brain (Wernicke and Broca area), the visual cortex (as we imagine the lyrics), the motor cortex and the limbic system.
All this means that listening to music can bring us many benefits. As language areas are involved, it can be very helpful with Alzheimer patients, developing speech and vocabulary. In fact, according to the University of Florida, students who listen to music or play an instrument score 53 to 61 points above average on the SAT verbal section; and 39 to 42 on the maths section.
Finally, as music increases the levels of dopamine and endorphin released, it inhibits the neurotransmitters responsible for stress and anxiety. And by stimulating the motor cortex, music has been proven useful in treating Parkinson and other syndromes that lack dopamine secretion.
After discovering all these reasons, lets Rock around the clock!