How does the musical rhythm affect the brain

Power of music

How music affects people

In fact, it changes the human heartbeat, blood pressure, respiratory rate and muscle tension. And it affects the hormonal balance. The sounds mainly affect the adrenal gland and pituitary gland.

Depending on the type of music, different hormones are released - adrenaline with fast and aggressive music, noradrenaline with soft and calm sounds. The latter can, for example, reduce the release of stress hormones and increase the concentration of pain-controlling beta-endorphins in the body.

Music can actually reduce pain in this way. Logically, it is therefore already used therapeutically in medicine in a wide variety of areas. It is particularly useful in psychiatry and pain therapy.

But it can also be a valuable aid in the rehabilitation of stroke patients and in geriatrics. Because making music can be like a fountain of youth for the brain, because new nerve connections are formed in the process.

What music lessons in school bring

Its educational importance is almost undisputed. Subjects such as German or mathematics are preferred in the curriculum because they are considered more important for integrating students into working life. But model tests have shown that music lessons also make a contribution to the social development of children.

In a long-term study at several Berlin primary schools (named "Bastian Study" after its initiator, Prof. Dr. Hans Günther Bastian), the social skills of the children involved increased significantly.

The number of students who were excluded had decreased, while the proportion of children who did not receive a single rejection from their classmates was twice as high as in conventional schools. In addition, there was a noticeably calmer, less aggressive climate at these schools.

How can this be explained? Making music together requires carefully coordinated listening to one another. Music also trains the perception of the other. And so the children also learn, for example, to listen to the tone of the voice of others, by which they can judge a person's mood.

Making music also has an immediately rewarding result: if it fits, it sounds nice too. This trains motivation and concentration.

How the brain processes music

Music is a great challenge for the brain, it could also have a training effect on memory performance.

One of the reasons for this is that music consists of an abundance of information presented at the same time. The brain has to recognize pitches and melodies, for example, and compare them with one another.

It also has to record the chronological sequence of the tones. This results in bars and rhythms. Notes arriving at the same time must be sorted into chords. Then there is the position and the type of sound source: anyone who listens to music usually knows whether a drum kit or piano is playing and where it is in the room.

Of course, the brain first has to determine this through a multitude of measurements and comparisons. Some of these tasks are shared by the left and right hemispheres of the brain. In the case of professional musicians, by the way, this division is often the other way around - we don't yet know why.

The brains of musicians also differ from the brains of people who do not make music. With them, the areas that link the activities of the hands with those of listening and analyzing are particularly well developed.

And that in turn shows that the activities when making music, but also when listening to music, permanently change the brain. All new connections that arise between the nerve cells in the brain through music are retained in humans.

Memory training

It is therefore also assumed that music can prevent the breakdown of nerve cells in the brain of old people. Some of the brain areas affected in old age are more developed in musicians. In any case, music has a training effect on memory.

All parts of the brain involved in hearing and making sounds are trained and stimulated by music. This has already been proven for so-called tonal languages, i.e. languages ​​whose understanding depends very much on acoustic subtleties, such as Chinese.

Music also acts as a memory aid. For this reason, hymns are also sung: so that their content can be better remembered. An attempt was made to understand this finding with anatomy students. The students were allowed to sing their material, and they actually kept it better!

How music triggers emotions

The limbic system in the brain, which is responsible for feelings, is also stimulated by music. Music can therefore trigger emotions and give the listener goose bumps. In addition, music is sometimes associated with personal events. If it is heard again, then the memories of experienced situations come back, as well as the feelings felt.

A Christmas carol is often enough to put someone in the Christmas mood. In this context, music works like a kind of language in which certain events are coded. This is particularly evident in film music, for example horror or suspense music.