Have you even been driving in your car, listening to the radio and a certain song comes on that takes you immediately back to a particular time and place that means something to you? Music can affect our moods, motivate you to exercise, boost your immune system, increase performances on tests, reduce the impact of stress, fight fatigue and increase productivity. Researchers have found that music is an important influence on how we create memories and that people often associate songs with emotions, events, people and places in our past. It helps to preserve events in your mind and has a far-reaching on how we react to music in the future.
I Wish I Was An Oscar Meyer Wiener
When we think about memory, we often agree that it is greatly impacted by all of our senses, but perhaps the greatest memory trigger is the sound of music. If can induce specific feelings and reactions and bring us back to the childhood memories we may have otherwise forgotten. One of the best examples of how music can trigger our memories is through commercial jingles. Jingles usually incorporate important information into the tunes in a simple and repetitive way that consumers are sure to remember.
Music and rhythm can also enhance our ability to recall necessary information. Children’s shows are notorious for teaching memorization skills through music, the alphabet song, the multiplication tables, even the year Columbus sailed the ocean blue. In the 1970s, a musical program called Schoolhouse Rock helped millions of US children recall facts and figures about all areas of grammar, science, US history, math and money. Nowadays, no matter where you are, if you start to sing “Conjunction Junction,” I’m sure plenty of adults over the age of 40 would stand up and join in. The power of music is that strong.
The Mozart Effect
The idea that music makes you smarter has been studied time and again. While it was once thought that listening to classical music, particularly Mozart, would enhance and infant’s ability to learn and would improve school children’s performance on tests, this theory has not been proved to the satisfaction of the scientific community. However, studies have shown that music does promote a reduction in stress and an increase in positive mood that will make it more likely to retain new information learned, so it may be said that, in a way, music can enhance your ability to learn new information.
Studies have also shown that in Alzheimer’s patients, and those experiencing dementia, music therapy has increased their ability to recall memories and improve cognitive functioning. The reason postulated is that when you listen to songs you are familiar with, it stimulates the hippocampus, the area of the brain that controls long-term storage. This makes it easier to pull out relevant memories you made while listening to a particular song.
Therefore, even though the Mozart-effect has never been proven, the idea that forming a new memory with music, and then using the same music again later to recall the memory still seems to be a sound idea. If you’re having trouble remembering something, you might have better luck if you play the same music you were listening to when you first made the memory in the first place.
Always Look On The Bright Side of Life
In addition to the effects of music on our ability to learn, recall and retain new information, music also has a powerful impact on our emotional well-being. Music can pump you up when you’re exercising, it can boost a team’s spirit before the big game and it can decrease feelings of anxiety, stress and depression. Music has the ability to change the emotional and physical status of people, whether they’re in a good mood, bad mood or sad mood. Music has an impact on every aspect of our daily lives. Imagine watching a movie with no soundtrack. Without music, there would be no suspense, horror or excitement. Music can make you cry and it can make you feel energized when you’re tired.
We all know from experience how much music can affect both our memories and our emotions. In fact, music has such a profound impact on our mind and body that there is a growing field of health care known as music therapy. Those who practice music therapy have found positive effects when working with those experiencing chronic pain, ADHD, depression, cancer and dementia. Music Therapy shouldn’t only be used in a therapeutic setting, however. Adding a positive soundtrack to your life, you can promote, restore and maintain a sense of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
What’s on your life’s play list?
- How does music affect people? (thepantherlabmusic.wordpress.com)
- Music Therapy for Homeless Children – Detroit, Education in Detroit, United States (socialactions.net)
- The Mind/Body Connection and How It Affects Your Health (therapystew.com)
- Thesis Chapter 3 – Music Therapy and the Grief Process (thinkingbookworm.typepad.com)
- A New Mozart Effect (evomusicology.wordpress.com)