Music and the Brain: Effects on Body & Mind

Music is an important part of our life. We encounter it every day: we listen on the phone, hear in shops and cafes, on TV programs, in gyms.

How music affects emotions

There are many studies that show the short-term effects of music on emotions , the medium-term effects on more stable conditions like mood, and the long-term effects on our overall mental health. Music reminds us of certain events, people or places, and we experience emotions associated with them.

Music can not only reduce stress levels psychologically, but it can also regulate biological responses.

There are two main biological systems associated with stress response. One of them is the sympathetic nervous system, which quickly reacts to stress and affects the work of many organs: our pulse quickens and blood pressure rises, adrenaline is released.

The second system is the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. It is part of our endocrine or hormonal system that triggers a cascade of hormones in response to a stressful situation or event. One of them is cortisol, a well-known stress hormone.

Music and biological markers of stress

Many people go to concerts to get positive emotions and relax. Classical music can gradually reduce stress levels, and we become calmer, while a pop concert is more of a cathartic process, during which we experience a range of emotions. But in the end, both types of concerts help us relax.

Controlled laboratory studies show that there are specific features of music that are important to our emotions: its structure, energy, how much we like it, how familiar it is. All of these regulate our stress response in a controlled environment in different ways. But when it comes to complex contexts like concert halls, the context can outweigh the quality of the music.

The relaxing effect may increase over time. It turns out that when people first try singing or playing the drums, they don’t necessarily feel very relaxed – perhaps because it’s a new activity. But if people do it many times, then after a couple of weeks they get used to it and relax much more in the process. What we do regularly is a way to relieve stress.

Reduced stress

We can use music to reduce stress both in our daily life and in certain situations like listening on platforms like Soundcloud, Spotify, or mp3 converter Youtube which can convert things from audio to video. For example, waiting for surgery creates anxiety and stress. It can also lower blood pressure and pulse rate, feel more relaxed before surgery, which means we need fewer anesthetics, and potentially we can discharge the patient earlier and get higher levels of satisfaction with care.

This shows that music is not only a fun pastime, but also a tool that can be used in healthcare. There is hardly any magic music that will become a universal means of reducing stress for all of humanity, but one can come closer to understanding how the characteristics of music and personal experience affect emotional response.