Many experts believe that listening to music engages one's brain so much that it becomes a workout.
According to a Johns Hopkins otolaryngologist, “there are few things that stimulate the brain the way music does”.
Music reduces stress, pain, symptoms of depression, anxiety, blood pressure and improves one’s mood, mental alertness and memory. On a deeper level, it stimulates the brain, improves cognitive and motor skills, spatial-temporal learning and neurogenesis (the brain’s ability to produce neurons).
This effect of music is most prevalent in Alzheimer’s patients. When people with neurodegenerative diseases (like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s) listen to music, they respond positively. Kiminobu Sugaya, a neuroscientist who teaches the popular “Music and the Brain” course in the Burnett Honors College, notes that “usually in the late stages, Alzheimer’s patients are unresponsive [...] but once you put in the headphones that play [their favourite] music, their eyes light up. They start moving and sometimes singing. The effect lasts maybe 10 minutes or so even after you turn off the music.”
In fact, listening to music from your childhood can increase your dopamine since it helps you reminisce about the past.
It can bring back memories that you may have forgotten too!
Furthermore, in the Harvard Health Publishing from Harvard Medical School, music listeners had higher scores for mental well-being and slightly reduced levels of anxiety and depression compared to others. An active musical engagement was associated with higher rates of happiness and good cognitive function.
Music keeps your brain networks active and strong since it can activate almost all brain regions and networks, helping to keep a variety of brain pathways and networks strong (notably the networks that are involved in the quality of life and happiness).
Listening to music thoroughly engages your brain and benefits you in so many ways! What is your favourite music?