Improve your brain with music

What did you do yesterday? Think about it. I’m sure you could roughly say what you did, who you met and spoke with, what you ate. Now what about the day before yesterday? Or the day before that? Tricky isn’t it? Many psychologists around the world have explored memory in great detail, some creating various models to describe how we store memories and information, others exploring different ways in which we can retain all of that. One thing which comes up time and time again is the effects of music on our memory and learning.

The effect of music on spatial-temporal reasoning has come to be known as “The Mozart Effect”. This refers to an experiment carried out in 1993 by a group of psychologists, where the researchers played music by Mozart to a group of students. The results showed an improvement in tests given to the students before and after Mozart was played (in comparison with general relaxation music and no music, both showing no improvement).

Music not only acts as a ‘brain trainer’ but it has also been shown to have some form of cognitive protection. Those of us who play musical instruments are less likely to develop dementia than those of us who don’t.

On top of this, there has also been evidence to suggest that music can help the brain to repair some cognitive functions that may be damaged due to a stroke, Parkinson’s disease or brain injuries.

We’ve all experienced facing a task that seems too hard to accomplish. Our motivation will decrease the longer we dwell on the fact that “we can’t do it” and the stress will set in. What if we played some upbeat music and put the task in front of ourselves again? The effect of the music will make the task seem a whole lot easier, almost tricking our brain, telling us that we really can handle it. The music will also increase our motivation and confidence levels, helping us to deal with the situation a lot better.

Serotonin – a neurotransmitter found in the brain – plays an important role in regulating mood and learning (among other things) and a lack of serotonin may lead to feelings of depression, de-motivation and anxiety and may cause some to have migraines and feel nauseous. It is believed that listening to music can promote the production of serotonin in our brains which means that overall our mood will be a lot better and we will feel a lot happier and more at ease.

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