Exercise Your Brain – Listen to New Tunes Today; The Effects of Music on the Brain


Evelyn Kelley, Staff Writer

Did you know that listening and playing music can have countless benefits for your brain?

Finnish researchers have found that music activates every part of the brain, including the auditory areas, the large-scale neural networks, the (motor) areas of the brain associated with movement, the Limbic areas of the brain (which are associated with emotions), and other areas that are believed to be responsible for “mind-wandering and creativity.”

Not only does music activate nearly all of your brain, playing or just listening to music “can make you smarter, happier, healthier, and more productive,” (https://bebrainfit.com/music-brain/) It is also said that playing music may also improve your communication skills.

The brain’s response to music can even be seen in Alzheimer’s patients. Neuroscientist Kiminobu Sugaya speaks on the situation, “Usually in the late stages, Alzheimer’s patients are unresponsive, but once you put in the headphones that play music, their eyes light up. They start moving and sometimes singing. The effect lasts maybe 10 minutes or so even after you turn off the music.” The intensity of music’s effect on Alzheimer’s patients doesn’t only come when listening to music, but playing as well. Sugaya also states that “An Alzheimer’s patient… could still play the piano if he learned it when he was young because playing has become a muscle memory… Those memories in the cerebellum never fade out.” These examples help show us how truly powerful the art of listening and playing music is.

According to https://www.ucf.edu/pegasus/your-brain-on-music/, “your gray matter prefers the same music you do,” which shows that no particular type of music causes the brain to exhibit more reactions or positive effects. “If you play someone’s favorite music, different parts of the brain light up. That means memories associated with music are emotional memories, which never fade out — even in Alzheimer’s patients,” Kiminobu Sugaya says. “Music can be a drug — a very addictive drug because it’s also acting on the same part of the brain as illegal drugs. Music increases dopamine in the nucleus accumbens, similar to cocaine.” Not only is music very activating and healthy for the brain, it can also be very addictive, but prove to be not as harmful as other vices.

Favorite music that relates to memory can prove extremely valuable, but the Johns Hopkins Medicine website also expresses that, “New music challenges the brain in a way that old music doesn’t.” According to the site, the unfamiliarity of the new music “forces the brain” to try to understand the new sound, which can help exercise and grow the brain.

Next time you’re looking for a way to help exercise your brain, ask a friend, a classmate, or even a family member for some of their favorite music and get your hands on some new tunes to help grow your mind!