As we mentioned before, listening to music benefits us individually and collectively. And today, we want to share what research tells us about the power of music to improve our physical, mental, and emotional health. Do you want to find out more? Keep on reading!
— March 5th, 2021
In 2009, archaeologists excavating a cave in southern Germany uncovered a flute carved from a vulture’s wing bone. The delicate artifact is the oldest known musical instrument on earth — indicating that people have been making music for over 40,000 years.
Although we can’t be sure exactly when human beings began listening to music, scientists do know something about why we do.
Music connects us
One of the main functions of music is to create a feeling of cohesion or belonging. Evolutionary scientists say human beings may have developed a dependence on music as a communication tool because our ancestors descended from arboreal species.
Music remains a powerful way of uniting people:
- national anthems connect crowds at sporting events
- protest songs stir a sense of shared purpose during marches
- hymns build group identity in houses of worship
- love songs help prospective partners bond during courtship
- lullabies enable parents and infants to develop secure attachments
Music can lead to better learning
Doctors at Johns Hopkins recommend that you listen to music to stimulate your brain. This recommendation is sustained by extensive research and MRI scans that show that listening to music engages your brain!
Music can improve memory
Music also has a positive effect on your ability to memorize. Students who listen to music outperform students who work in silence or with white noise in many cases.
More so, the Mayo Clinic points out that while music doesn’t reverse the memory loss experienced by people with Alzheimer’sAlzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, music can slow cognitive decline.
Music can help treat mental illness
Neurological researchers have found that listening to music triggers the release of several neurochemicals that play a role in brain function and mental health:
- dopamine, a chemical associated with pleasure and “reward” centers
- stress hormones like cortisol
- serotonin and other hormones related to immunity
- oxytocin, a chemical that fosters the ability to connect to others
Although more research needs to be done, music therapy can help treat mental illnesses.
Music affects our mood
One of the most common uses of music? It helps people regulate their emotions, researchers found. It has the power to change moods and help people process their feelings.
Plus, there’s lots of evidence that listening to music can help calm you in situations where you might feel anxious. And that listening to music, mainly classical, can help battle depression.
Music has positive effects on the body
Music has many positive effects on the body. For instance, music can alter your breath rate, heart rate, and blood pressure, depending on its intensity and tempo.
Music can also help decrease fatigue and even boost exercise performance.
Lastly, over 90 studies reported that music helps people manage acute and chronic pain better than medication alone.
This article is a re-post, with small modifications, of “The Benefits of Listening to Music,” an article published on healthline.com