why does classical music stimulate the brain

Music of all varieties has been shown to generate health benefits for the mind and body. Listening to music can lower blood pressure, induce relaxation, reduce anxiety and even increase your libido. Some have asserted that music, particularly classical music, can boost cognitive function. Does classical music generate brain responses that other forms of music do not? On this subject, expert opinion is mixed. In 1993, Dr. Gordon Shaw of the University of California-Irvine found a temporary spike in IQ in college students after they listened to Mozart. Control groups who listened to other types of music or nothing at all experienced no change. What followed was a string of headlines claiming "Mozart's Music Makes You Smarter," and a mass of "Baby Mozart" CDs hitting the market. All of which, Shaw says, oversimplifies his findings. "It is not that the Mozart will make you permanently smarter," he says. But he speculates that listening to Mozart might be useful to warm up the part of the brain involved in abstract thought. Among the Mozart Effect's many critics is music scientist Dr. Daniel Levitin who points to people with Williams syndrome as evidence that classical music and high intelligence are not intrinsically linked. People with Williams characteristically have quite low intelligence but are frequently musically gifted. For example, one Williams syndrome patient Levitin studied could not figure out how to open his clarinet case, but if someone put the assembled clarinet in his hands, he could play remarkably well.


Duke University's Dr. Kevin Labar says that classical music can improve your intellectual performance, but not by raising your IQ. Classical music can produce a calming effect by releasing pleasure-inducing dopamine and inhibiting the release of stress hormones, all of which generates a pleasant mood. "And inducing a pleasant mood," says Labar, "seems to clarify thinking. " Classical music, however, is not the only way to enhance relaxation, as other calming activities produce a similar result. It also depends on personal taste: If you don't find classical music relaxing, you won't experience these effects. Dr. Claudius Conrad frequently listens to Mozart in the operating room, but the surgeon says the music offers significant benefits to his patients as well. He conducted a study in 2007 in which he treated postoperative patients to Mozart sonatas. The patients responded with a reduced need for pain medication, lower blood pressure and lower levels of stress hormones, all of which are music therapy benefits that were demonstrated in other studies. But Conrad also found that the patients' brains released 50 percent more pituitary growth hormone, which reduces inflammation and promotes healing. His study was published in the December 2007 issue of "Critical Care Medicine. "
In 2004, various British railway stations began piping in recordings of Mozart, Bach and Handel, which resulted in a one-third drop in the number of robberies and other crimes.


Psychologists speculate that the relaxing melodies had a tranquilizing and disorienting effect on potential criminals. Train managers in northeast England reported a decrease in minor public nuisances such as spitting and smoking, and travelers said they experienced an increased sense of safety in the musically fortified zones. For all the, classical music seems to fall in a gray area. One side seems to think it makes children smarter, while others file this notion under the. A new Finnish aims to clarify this classic connection. БAlthough brain imaging studies have demonstrated that listening to music alters human brain structure and function, the molecular mechanisms mediating those effects remain unknown,Б researchers wrote. БWith the advent of genomics and bioinformatics approaches, these effects of music can now be studied in a more detailed fashion. Б Case and point: Researchers performed genome-wide transcriptional profiling from the peripheral blood of participants after they listened to classical music Б and again without music exposure. In laymanБs terms, researchers studied musicБs effects on a molecular level, something they cited prior research hasnБt done before. They had one group of participants listen to Wolfgang Amadeus MozartБs Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major, K. 216 for 20 minutes, and another didnБt listen to any music. Instead, they were advised to avoid listening to music the day before the study and spent their session either talking to other participants, reading a magazine, or walking outside.


The results showed listening to classical music enhanced activity of genes involved in dopamine secretion (the feel good hormone), and Бtransport synaptic function, learning and memory. Б One of the most up-regulated genes was synuclein-alpha (SNCA), which is a known risk gene for. б This gene is also how songbirds learn songs. "The up-regulation of several genes that are known to be responsible for song learning and singing in songbirds suggest a shared evolutionary background of sound perception between vocalizing birds and humans," Dr. Irma Jцrvelц, lead study author, said in a While classical music worked to regulate some genes, it Бdown-regulatedБ others associated with neurodegeneration Б the process of neurons losing their structure or function Б Бsuggesting the importance of familiarity and experience in mediating music-induced effects. Б Music therapy continues to be an area of scientific interest. Prior research has shown offer individuals suffering from cognitive illnesses a fresh way of thinking, while creating, singing, moving, and/or listening to music б in depressed children and adolescents. Bonus: This form of therapy helped cope with their illness, and jazz music worked to reduce anxiety in. Source: Kanduri C, et al. The effect of listening to music on human transcriptome. б PeerJ. б 2015.

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