Music and science are a bit like bread and butter; delicious on their own, but incredible once they come together and things start to heat up. Research is proving yet again what scientists from several decades ago always suspected. Music training and enjoyment of any kind can, in fact, make us smarter and more capable of understanding complex scientific concepts later in life.
We can attribute the fact that we know this to the dedicated researchers who spent countless hours huddled over a lab notebook, dissecting information to identify patterns found in testing. What exactly is it about this magical music that makes it so absolutely enchanting and so healthy for the brain? It has to do with the neurology of the brain.
How Music Influences the Brain
It’s not really news to anyone that music can be enjoyable. Crank up your favorite tunes and dance it out or play some soothing classical, and you can feel the difference in your mood. In some ways, listening to music is just another form of altered consciousness – albeit one without any real negative effects, unless you happen to listen a bit too loud.
It can motivate you and tell your brain to release adrenaline and endorphins, relax you when you’re a bit too wired up, and may even cause a select group of individuals with a condition called synesthesia to perceive colors, shapes, or numbers associated with it.
If music were a drug, we’d call it a potent psychoactive, but, unlike medications, music also has the ability to make us wiser because of the way the brain processes it.
Why Music Makes You Wiser
The first step in understanding why music is so influential is to understand that the same neurological activity and areas of the brain are used in memorization, memory recall, and even language. These are the areas that help us recall faces, study for exams, or even memorize test results when engaging in research. The difference is that music has both a logical formulaic function and an emotional tie, and this can persuade your brain that the information it is taking in is more important and should be held for later use.
This fact also explains why it’s easier for us to remember song lyrics than, say, a telephone number or the name of someone we’ve only just met. It also explains why taking study topics and turning them into songs allows the brain to more easily retain that information.
Long-Term Benefits to Scientists
Simply listening to music while you work, whether you’re studying or writing up reports on your cleanroom notebook or engaging in an incredibly delicate test, can help you to stay focused and in tune with what you’re doing, and may even help you to retain any new theories you discover as you go.
The benefits don’t stop once you turn the music off; a study by the University of Kansas is illustrating the fact that musical training of any kind has long-term cognitive benefits to the brain. They tested participants on their cognitive ability after sorting them into groups representing how much musical experience they had. The result? The more musical experience a participant had, the better they did on the test.
Interested in learning more about other scientific discoveries? Be sure to follow our blog where we’re constantly posting compelling blogs that will keep you entertained and amazed with the many wonders of science.