Music and mental health – here is what to know about the link between the two | Photo Credit: Pixabay
- Music has the ability to influence the mood and behaviour of people
- Singing together in groups has shown to enhance mood and make people happier
- Music can also help improve endurance and physical performance
New Delhi: Most of us enjoy music and associate various sounds and melodies with moods and memories. Almost all cultures, from the most primitive to the most advanced, make music. We humans sing and hum; whether in tune or not. Our brain and nervous system are hard-wired to distinguish music from noise and to respond to melodies, rhythm and tunes.
Apublished by Harvard Medical School claims that music has major effects on many aspects of health, ranging from memory and mood to cardiovascular function and athletic performance. It accepts that the neurobiology of music is a highly specialized field but it is also true that music — or at least some forms of music — acts as an “exercise” that warms up selected brain cells, allowing them to process information more efficiently.
Our tastes could differ, though. Some may like the classical versions, some the pop, reggae, rock, metal, or rap styles. Some may like Hindustani and others the western classical. Ad so on and so forth.
Have you heard of the Mozart effect?
That is one of the most famous experiments that link music to the mental influence it has – the “Mozart effect.” Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, were stunned that many musicians have unusually sharp mathematical abilities. They investigated how listening to music affects cognitive function in general and spatial-temporal reasoning in particular.
They conducted a study experiment. In their first study, they administered standard IQ test questions to three groups of college students, comparing those who had spent 10 minutes listening to a Mozart piano sonata with a group that had been listening to a relaxation tape and one that had been waiting in silence.
Mozart was the winner, consistently boosting test scores. Next, the investigators checked to see if the effect was specific to classical music or if any form of music would enhance mental performance. They compared Mozart’s music with repetitive music by Philip Glass; again, Mozart seemed to help, improving spatial reasoning as measured by complex paper cutting and folding tasks and short-term memory as measured by a 16-item test.
So, they concluded that music — or at least some forms of music — acts as an “exercise” that warms up selected brain cells, allowing them to process information more efficiently.
Music and mental health – The link
Some psychological benefits offered by music are as follows:
- It can help boost mood: Have you ever plugged into some psychedelic rock, perhaps Radiohead, or any comfort music of your preference and felt as if your body felt lighter and relaxed? If yes then it may not come to you as a surprise to know the benefits of music in boosting mood. This can be backed up by the findings of a study published in Talor & Francis Online called “Trying to be happier really can work: Two experimental studies”.
- It may help relieve symptoms of depression: According to a study published in the World Journal of Psychiatry called the “Effects of music and music therapy on mood in neurological patients”, it was found that music can help against symptoms of depression as well as other neurological problems such as Parkinson’s disease and dementia.
- It can enhance the quality of sleep: Researchers have found that the issue of insomnia and sleep can be improved through music. The findings were published on Wiley Online Library and is called “Music improves sleep quality in students”.
- It can improve cognitive function: Music can benefit mental health through methods of stress reduction and memory enhancement. Every benefit combined, music can help develop the overall cognitive function in humans. This can be backed up with the finding published in Frontiers in Psychology called “Pleasurable music affects reinforcement learning according to the listener”.
- It can help reduce your calorie intake: Have you ever noticed how some elite restaurants have jazz music playing in the background? It relaxes and helps one savour every morsel and eat slowly. Eating slow can induce a feeling of fullness in humans. The feeling of satiation is registered by the brain and we then tend to eat within limits. This ability can benefit people who are working on weight management. According to a study published in Sage Journals called “Fast Food Restaurant Lighting and Music can Reduce Calorie Intake and Increase Satisfaction”, it was found that music can promote the consumption of fewer calories.
Effects of music on the body
Apart from psychological benefits, music also possesses the ability to provide certain benefits to the overall health. According to a study conducted in 2015 on fibromyalgia patients, it was found that music can help manage and reduce pain in humans. The article is published in the Pain Management Nursing journal and is called “Effect of Music as Nursing Intervention for People Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia”. According to another study published in PubMed Central, it was found that music can also help reduce fatigue and improve cardiovascular health. The study was called “Cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and respiratory changes induced by different types of music in musicians and non‐musicians: the importance of silence”.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purpose only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before starting any fitness programme or making any changes to your diet.