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Tag Archives: brain

Music’s Effect on the Brain

Has music ever cheered you up? Has it ever helped you remember something you forgot? It probably has, and if it hasn’t happened to you yet, it likely will. Music has the ability to affect your brain in many different ways, from enhancing your workout to boosting your immune system.

One useful side effect of listening to music lies in the recollection of memories. When you listen to a song you know well, you might be reminded of a certain time, place, or memory. That memory had been forgotten, but when you heard the song, it came rushing back as if it were yesterday. We all have unique ways of remembering things. Personally, when recalling a memory, I have a single image, a snapshot of the memory in one moment, and the accompanying worded explanation. But I have that single image. When I listen to Frou Frou’s “Let Go,” I remember a majestic mountain range, captured through the windshield of an old van, the snow-capped peaks complimenting the song’s lyrics of absolute beauty. The song retrieves a memory that I can only remember when I hear the song. As I write this, I am listening to the song. I have to, to remember. Many of my songs have the same effect. Perhaps my method of recalling memories is unique to me, but I doubt it. Listening to music you know stimulates a region of the brain known as the hippocampus, which handles long-term memory storage. So if you’re having trouble remembering something but can remember what song you were listening to at the time, then your best bet is to listen to that song.

If you’re starting to feel stressed or ill, music could be the cure. Music has been proven to boost the immune system. Slow, soothing music is known to decrease stress, as it decreases the level of the stress hormone cortisol. Fast, upbeat music is known to increase the level of antibodies in your system, effectively boosting your immune system. I know that listening to Afrocelt’s “Persistence of Memory” eases the tension of the day, relaxes me. And Peter Gabriel’s “Shock the Monkey” always puts a smile on my face. Next time you’re not feeling your best, a nice upbeat song might be the perfect thing for you.

Music can help you decrease anxiety and keep yourself from choking up when placed under pressure. Humorous, light-hearted songs decrease anxiety and are perfect for before meetings and presentations. Some such songs are Weird Al Yankovic’s “Fat,” some of Jonathan Coulton’s or They Might Be Giants’ songs, or Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” These songs distract your brain and make you laugh enough to keep you from choking up or freezing.

When exercising, listening to music can increase exercising strength. It can help you run, swim, or bike faster for longer. Fast-paced music distracts your attention, while at the same time pushes your heart and muscles to work harder and at a faster pace. Music makes exercising much more enjoyable, and much easier.

The delivery system for this music must be quality if you want the best results. But you can’t tote around a boombox when you’re running or swimming. No, for that you need an MP3 player. And that means headphones. But not all headphones are adequate for such things. Many are ill-fitting, and fall out as soon as you start moving around. Velodyne’s vPulse in-ear headphones have ear adapters for all ear sizes, providing the user a perfect seal for balanced sound and ensuring they stay put. This makes them ideal for exercising, and for all occasions, really. If you want these effects of music, you need the right headphones.

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