Monday, January 10, 2011

Music's Effects On Our Minds.

Indeed the music we listen to on a daily basis, affects us mentally, emotionally as well as physically. Ever noticed how your mood changes at a party the second you hear a song you like? Well, this is because there have been numerous studies suggesting that music alters your mental state and oftentimes, takes us to another place in time, or in our minds.

Music sometimes helps us to make sense of our feelings and help us to express them verbally. This is why some songs make us cry, laugh or even get angry. This is because either the tone, rhythm or lyrics have reminded us of a feeling we once had, a person we know or an overall experience in life that occurred at which time, we heard that particular song.

Our physical/psychological connection to music is powerful, which is why people say that music is the language of our souls. Sometimes it can be through music that we can catch our senses or even begin believing in something. People may be in different moods when they listen to music and they also have different reasons why they listen. A lonely person, more than likely will not want to tune into love songs. It has a substantial effect on our mood and mental state.

Below, is a list of musical genres and the effects they most commonly have on our mental states:

Classical Music

Classical music is a type of music often involving large orchestras and typically exists without vocal accompaniment. It has the tendency to calm the body and stimulate the mind. It has been found to reduce stress (even for those for whom classical music is not the preferred genre) and enhance specific types of intelligence such as verbal ability and spatial-temporal reasoning. It does not make you more intelligent, but instead provides you with an ideal environment for thinking. A study conducted in Hong Kong on 90 boys between the ages of 6 and 15 found that the boys who learned to play music with their school's string orchestra program scored higher on tests of verbal memory and were able to learn more new words compared to those who did not receive musical training. Listening to classical music also has a very soothing effect on heart beat, and may be helpful in heart diseases.

Indian Classical Music

Indian classical music is both elaborate and expressive, and is based on ragas (melodic modes) and taals (specific rhythmic cycle). Certain ragas are known to activate all the chakras (moods or energy center) of the your body, thus benefiting you in the performance of other creative tasks. Music therapy based on classical ragas is being used or advised these days for the treatment of insomnia, migraine, chronic headache, hypertension, anxiety, etc. A study found that listening to Indian classical music can improve the quality of sleep in individuals with depression. The researchers concluded that the effects were comparable to hypnotic medication in improving quality of sleep in depressed patients.

Country Music

Country music has been linked to depression and suicide. Sociology professor James Gundlach, in his research, found that higher rates of suicide can be attributed to those who listen to country music. He found that the themes in country music foster a suicidal mood among people already at risk of suicide. , Gundlach notes that the suicide link occurred only with older country music, which he believes is not as upbeat as today's.

Rap or Hip Hop Music

Hip Hop music has had many different effects on teens. On one side, it is found to promote negative feelings and on the other, it is so energetic that it makes you want to stand up and dance.

A study done to explore how rap videos influence emotional and physical health suggests that teens who who spend more time watching the sex and violence depicted in the "reel" life of rap music videos (especially "gangsta" rap videos) are more likely to practice these behaviors in real life.

Rock Music

Listening to rock music can give you an adrenaline rush like no other kind of music. If you don't prefer listening to rock, it can make you feel angrier and annoyed as well as increase your heart rate and blood pressure. However, if you enjoy and are used to listening to this type of music then it can help relieve stress without affecting your heart rate or blood pressure.

A study was conducted by scientists on a group of mice to study the effects of rock music. The group of mice to which rock music was played performed progressively worse over the period of time they were exposed to the music and eventually became so disoriented that they became unable to complete the maze at all. When the brains of these mice were dissected, it was found out that their brains have undergone abnormal structural changes. The neurons in their brains (particularly in the hippocampus region which is known to be important in learning and memory formation) have grown out wildly in all directions without connecting to other neurons. Significant increases in messenger RNA, which is involved in memory formation, were also found. This could be the reason why listeners to rock music are more prone to use illegal drugs and engage in extramarital sex. This is also the reason why listeners to heavy metallic rock music are much more likely to commit suicide.

I like and listen to all sorts of music. Sometimes it has a personal message, takes me back to a certain time, reminds me of someone or the beat is just uplifting. Personally, rock is my favorite because it's usually invigorating and makes me feel like I can do anything. I guess this is the strategy the U.S Marines and Army use in their commercials to subconsciously get young adults to feel the adrenaline rush, hence, lose the fear of getting killed and consequently, sign up. A few years ago, I was on a strict diet and exercise regimen and the only music that got me through was Linkin Park and Chevelle. I felt like I could take on the world! Hence, losing over 35lbs in two months!

Nowadays mainstream music is different and generally about flaunting your assets. The rappers/hip hoppers like to talk about cars and ice (diamonds) and scantly clad females. Although I am a big fan of some, I refrain from others because they give me a vague and oftentimes, negative view of life through the artists' eyes.

So be sure to choose your melodies wisely as they have a considerable effect on how you feel.

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