Music and the Brain

July 8, 2013

We have all heard that music is good for the brain, but what does that actually mean? It turns out that after many years of research and new brain imaging and electrical recording techniques, scientists have found that music can help retrain the injured brain.

Areas of the brain that respond to music are also the parts of the brain that are responsible for “processing language, auditory perception, attention, memory, executive control, and motor control.”*  It has also become more clear through research that  music can drive placticity in the brain, growing, and developing this area that is responsible for language, auditory, and motor functions.

An example of this was demonstrated in Parkinson’s and stroke patients. Researchers found that when these patients were given musical cues, they were able to better control their movements and, in the case of Parkinson’s patients, they were able to continuously move and prevent the “freezing” that can often happen with those suffering from the disease.

The effect was a quickened healing time, and an overall better quality of life! Music doesn’t just help heal us, but even those of us who are quite healthy can feel happier when we listen to music. That is because our brain releases dopamine which makes us feel happy.** And not only does it release these neurotransmitters during the peak of a piece of music, but also just before which shows that we take pleasure in the anticipation and the reward of that anticipation!

So if you’re looking for a little happiness (who isn’t?), join us for one of our performances this season! You might find yourself leaving with an extra spring in your step!

Click here for more information about our upcoming performances.

*Source: Thaut, Michael, PhD, and Gerald McIntosh, MD. “How Music Helps to Heal the Injured Brain.” The Dana Institute. The Dana Foundation, 24 Mar. 2010. Web. 03 Oct. 2013. <http://www.dana.org/news/cerebrum/detail.aspx?id=26122>

**Source: Zatorre, Robert J., and Valorie N. Salimpoor. “Why Music Makes Our Brain Sing.” The New York Times. The New York Times- Sunday Review, 7 June 2013. Web. 3 Oct. 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/09/opinion/sunday/why-music-makes-our-brain-sing.html?_r=0>

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