Research on music and the brain has shown that it can reduce stress, alleviate pain and promote relaxation. And new research from the Cleveland Clinic shows that music can even reach into deep brain structures unrelated to hearing and memory to literally soothe nerves.
Studies have also shown how great music can be for reducing stress – especially before an operation or medical procedure. In fact, it was shown that relaxing music significantly decreases the level of anxiety of patients in a preoperative setting better than medication – without any side effects. How cool is that? In other studies, subjects who listened to music before a stressful event showed lower cortisol levels for more than an hour following the event when compared to those facing the same stress without music.
Not only does music help us reduce stress; there is also evidence that it can improve our mood. Researchers at the National University of Singapore reviewed 17 studies that examined the effects of music on depression, and found that playing your favorite tunes as little as once a week can help reduce depressive symptoms. It turns out, when you’re concentrating on the music you hear, you don’t have the mental resources to focus on other negative thoughts. It’s also worth noting that most antidepressant medications do not directly enhance dopamine neurotransmission – however – listening to your favorite songs boosts levels of dopamine – naturally.
Research has even shown how music can have a positive impact on learning and memory function. Even better, most studies demonstrate that it doesn’t matter what kind of music is used as long as it’s preferred by the subjects. So go ahead – rock out to those cheesy 80’s tunes – it does a body good.