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How music therapy helped a woman heal Scientists are still trying to figure out what's going on in our brains when we listen to music and how it produces such potent effects on the psyche.
Three studies published this month explore how the brain responds to music. The quest to dissect exactly what chemical processes occur when we put our headphones on is far from over, but scientists have come across some clues. Health benefits of music Read More Listening to music feels good, but An analysis of music for children that translate into physiological benefit?
Levitin and colleagues published a meta-analysis of studies in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences, suggesting the answer is yes. In one study reviewed, researchers studied patients who were about to undergo surgery.
Participants were randomly assigned to either listen to music or take anti-anxiety drugs. Scientists tracked patient's ratings of their own anxiety, as well as the levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
The patients who listened to music had less anxiety and lower cortisol than people who took drugs. Levitin cautioned that this is only one study, and more research needs to be done to confirm the results, but it points toward a powerful medicinal use for music. Levitin and colleagues also highlighted evidence that music is associated with immunoglobin A, an antibody linked to immunity, as well as higher counts of cells that fight germs and bacteria.
How music changes the brain What music we like So music is good for us, but how do we judge what music is pleasurable? A study published in the journal Science suggests that patterns of brain activity can indicate whether a person likes what he or she is hearing.
Valorie Salimpoor, a researcher at the Rotman Research Institute in Toronto and former Levitin student, led a study in which participants listened to 60 excerpts of music they had never heard before while in a functional magnetic resonance imaging fMRI machine.
It's time to get your brain in shape The 19 participants were asked to indicate how much money they would spend on a given song when listening to the excerpts, while also allowing researchers to analyze patterns of brain activity through the fMRI.
Such a small number of participants is common in an fMRI study for reasons of complexity and cost, although it suggests more research should be done.
The study authors highlight in their results a brain area called the nucleus accumbens, which is involved in forming expectations. The more activity in the nucleus accumbens, the more money people said they were willing to spend on any particular song in the "auction" set-up that the researchers designed.
What the brain draws from: Art and neuroscience Another brain area called the superior temporal gyrus is intimately involved in the experience of music, and its connection to the nucleus accumbens is important, she said. The genres of music that a person listens to over a lifetime impact how the superior temporal gyrus is formed.
The superior temporal gyrus alone doesn't predict whether a person likes a given piece of music, but it's involved in storing templates from what you've heard before.
For instance, a person who has heard a lot of jazz before is more likely to appreciate a given piece of jazz music than someone with a lot less experience. You can listen to the clips that the researchers used in the study here.Get the latest news and analysis in the stock market today, including national and world stock market news, business news, financial news and more.
Apr 15, · Exactly what chemical processes occur when we put our headphones? Scientists have come across some clues. Analyses and reviews of classical music pieces, performers, genres and styles, with audio examples and score extracts.
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