Music is used to connect people culturally, express strongly held opinions, or get through the grind of the day. As you can see, music is an integral aspect of our daily lives. But did you know that volume, genre, and frequency of music can affect our health? There is widespread contention from the scientific community in regards to the efficacy of music. While some scholars believe that certain types of music correlate with increased intelligence, others cite that it stimulates distraction and inattention.
Pro: Classical Music Bolsters Spatial Intelligence
Music has the power to evoke emotion, empowerment, and equanimity; however, certain music has been scientifically proven to increase intelligence. Scientist Gordon L. Shaw co-founded the theory of the Mozart Effect at the University of California, Irvine; this theory demonstrated that listening to classical music for long periods of time can increase one’s capacity for spatial reasoning. Spatial reasoning is defined as “the ability to mentally move objects in space and time to solve multi-step problems”. Shaw and his graduate student created a brain model and used musical notes to correlate to brain activity, and eventually realized that the sounds picked up in the brain represented classical music.
Many subsequent experiments confirmed the relationship between classical music and increased spatial intelligence. One of Shaw’s personal studies resulted in college students increasing their IQs by nine points upon listening to Mozart’s “Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major.” In another study, a group of three to four-year-olds were given keyboard lessons for four to six months, and their spatial and temporal reasoning was measured to be 34% better compared to those who did not receive piano lessons.
With the rise in advanced technology, scientists are currently studying neural circuits from infancy to childhood and hope to draw stronger correlations between classical music and intelligence. In the meantime, it’s safe to say that expanding our repertoire of classical music in our daily lives may, in fact, improve our overall intelligence quotient.
Con: Music Hinders Attention Span
In this day and age, millennials are buried under their headphones in their ears while carrying out day to day tasks such as driving or studying. Despite the ubiquity of the scene, the type of music and its noise level limits a person’s attention span and can be detrimental to overall health.
One study conducted by the University of Wales discovered that listening to music can impede performance. For this study, there were 25 test subjects between the ages of 18 and 30; they had to memorize and later recollect a specific list of letters given to them under quiet conditions, with favorable or unfavorable music, and with audio reciting numbers. The study concluded that students“performed the worst while listening to music, regardless of whether they liked that music, and to the speech of random numbers,” thus proving that music hinders the process of learning.
This idea that music decreases attention span is further demonstrated through the dangers of distracted driving. Participants have a slower reaction time when exposed to loud music. Another study noted that their driving performance worsened with one’s preferred music, including more traffic violations and errors and aggression in driving. Additionally, the volume of the music is important to consider. A study conducted in Canada demonstrated that reaction times decreased up to 20 percent upon being exposed to loud volume, thus increasing motorists accidents.
While music does bring about certain health benefits, it can be detrimental if the projection is not used in moderation. Since music can deter our concentration during cognitively challenging tasks, perhaps it is best to keep the volume at a normal tempo and listen only for a few hours. Moderation of music, when exercised with caution, has the power to make us more alert, aware, and cognizant of our actions and our surroundings.
Regardless of the varied perspectives, the purpose of this pro and con article is to shed some perspective on music and health and help formulate your own opinions. Comment below if you resonate with any of these views or if you have experienced some of the same health effects through music!
How Music Therapy Can Help Autistic Children
What is Autism?
Autism is a condition that can be commonly noticed within the first three years of someone’s life. It’s considered one of the most complex disabilities and many people that are diagnosed with highly recognizable symptoms will continue to have development hindered for verbal, social, and cognitive abilities.
This disorder can continue to affect the way that we communicate with others and it can often be difficult to narrow down the overall symptoms or causes. Therapy options for individuals who are diagnosed with autism can often be experimental and limited. As roughly 1 in 68 people across America is diagnosed with some form of autism; that’s why it is highly important to have treatment options available to assist with the conditions over time.
Impact of Music on Autism
One of the most effective new treatments for autism therapy comes from the help of music. The reason that music therapy can be so effective for treating autism is that it stimulates both hemispheres in the brain rather than just a single hemisphere. Through music therapy, a therapist can use a specific song or an instrument to spur cognitive ability that directly impacts self-awareness. Music can then directly be linked in the brain of a person with autism. This musical connection can help them to form new relationships with others, encourage communicative behavior, encourage interaction, as well as help an individual with autism to develop a brand-new passion.
Seeing the relationship between different band members and how they work together to create beautiful music can be an excellent connection for relationships within someone’s life. Children with autism can often experience benefits by learning an instrument themselves so that they can connect with a new form of communication. In children dealing with autism, teaching them an instrument early on can help them to bond with that object and open up to other individuals who are also working with instruments as well.
Autism music therapy can also be improved through the proper evolution of musical therapies. Going on to learn lyrics or even a new instrument could help them to gain a better understanding or a brand-new connection. As children with autism learn new songs or new instruments, it can work at breaking down various barriers and help them feel more comfortable connecting in brand-new social situations. Learning new instruments can also be extremely beneficial for building fine motor skills which can help with learning a variety of new tasks.
Evolution of Music Therapy
Taking on music therapy early on can help with improving relationships as well as lead to improvements in sensory experience as a child continues to age. The century of communication from every angle of music will lead to an evolution of communicative ideas. In therapy, people with autism can learn how to dance, can learn rhythms, lyrics, instruments, new styles of music and more. These can continue to serve as powerful connections that can help them access new forms of communication involving their body and their brain functioning together.
These types of connections, when accessed early on, can help a person with autism to operate at an extremely high level.
Music Will Improve Your Quality of Sleep
Music is a medium that can be used in various elements of life that include culture, entertainment, or self-meditation. But did you know that by incorporating constant tunes each night into your sleeping routine can result in positive health outcomes?
Recent studies convey that music can be used to improve the quality of sleep. Having a proper amount of sleep for 6-8 hours can reduce fatigue, emotional distress, and increase mental alertness.
Sleep loss is a global issue that impacts your physical and mental state, and if you are constantly sleep-deprived, your overall health will deteriorate in the long-term. It could increase your risk for chronic illnesses and weaken your immune system to fight off bacterial infections. A thematic analysis was conducted on the general public via survey to determine the use of music as a sleeping aid. The research yielded four reasons regarding why music aids in sleeping.
- Creates unique mental stimuli- Music improves sleep quality when the frequency is more mellow and relaxing. The soothing lullaby is a relaxation technique parents implement to put their children to sleep. However, using music as a sleeping technique can be applied to all age ranges too. Instrumental music works better in relaxing an individual when compared to music with verbal stimuli. Classical music aids in relaxing mind and body while laying in bed before sleep. Soft melodies can mentally affect you by improving your mood, allowing you to clear your mind in order to focus on sleeping.
- Music can become habitual in forming sleep patterns- People develop daily routines that aid during their sleep process. The survey determined that people who listen to music while laying in bed become dependent on it to fall asleep. Music helps foster discipline in establishing a consistent sleep pattern. Habits provide a sense of security because it is the individual’s personal, trusted process and they understand their own needs the best.
- Music alters your state of the body- Listening to soothing sounds can alter your physical state. Calm sounds can physically affect you by lowering your heart rate and slowing your breathing, which occurs when a person falls asleep. If you listen to verbal stimuli such as Hip Hop, Rap, Rock, or R&B, your body will not be able to relax properly, making it harder for you to fall asleep.
- Music blocks out external stimuli- Music is known to block out noises in the environment. If there is an irritable sound, it is best to drown it out and not have extraneous noises interrupt your sleep pattern. It can also help distract individuals that feel uncomfortable with silence. Music can fill that void and put people at ease and allow them to relax.
With the knowledge you just learned, you can create the sleeping edition soundtrack to your life. Incorporating soothing music will help you see improvements not only in your sleeping patterns but also in your spacial awareness and your overall cognition.
How Music is Beneficial for Pregnancy
Pregnancy can be one of the most joyful times in a woman’s life. During this time, the expectant mother is ensuring that she and her baby are healthy, and this means being on top of diet, physical exercise, and sleep. But did you know that another small contribution a mother could attribute to her health and mindfulness is by incorporating music?
According to multiple studies conducted overtime, “Unborn babies who were exposed to music while in the womb showed a significant improvement in their overall mental, cognizant, behavioral, sensory, psychological and emotional development.” Therefore, listening to music can not only improve the baby’s health but also helps the soon-to-be mother relax by alleviating anxiety and stress. It also helps mother and child develop a close bond.
Science Behind Music and Neonatal Health
In order to fully understand how music affects the brain, we must dive deep into understanding how different hormones and receptors impact our body. Music can influence the transmission of dopamine in the brain and can affect growth factors important for our bodies such as tyrosine kinase receptors and brain-derived neurotrophic factors. In addition, music affects our endocrine system, specifically altering our adrenal and gonad steroids, which contribute to increased neonatal cognitive performance.
Scientists Ravindra Arya, Maya Chansoria, Ramesh Konaki, and Dileep K. Tiwari conducted a study in 2012 to further validate these scientific facts. Mothers who were in their 20 weeks period before gestation had to play a pre-recorded piece of Indian classical music. They followed this routine every night for 4 months for 50 minutes prior to sleeping with a normal volume, and the results of the study demonstrated the efficacy of music and infant health. The infants had a heightened response to social interactions, meaning that they responded better to “animate and inanimate, auditory, and visual stimuli presented separately or together.” In addition, newborn babies showed a higher performance rate for “range and regulation of behavioral states and autonomic stability.”
Common Opinion Regarding Music and Neonatal Health
Those who work outside the scientific community also concur with the fact that music enhances a baby’s health. The current information circulating within these realms is that music improves a baby’s reflexes, auditory senses, and overall personality. For specific song recommendations, below are the Top 5 songs for pregnancy on Spotify.
- Fur Elise (spotify:track:3ro1fjNvFzdwZDMIvzlFKL)
- Piano Sonata No. 2 in C Major, D: 279 I. Allegro Moderato (https://open.spotify.com/album/4FXJTRZIgy1EEXL9eSGvMF)
- Chopin Nocturne (spotify:track:00jD9Ynyo2971OMmksorbu)
- Greensleeves (spotify:track:7KGD9CCTZxFo13eE5eS3Lj)
- Moonlight Sonata (spotify:track:3lDgg5Ua6KKhrhUGr4CY5J)
Pregnancy is one of the biggest life-changing moments for a woman, and it is important that she keeps in good emotional health for herself and the baby. These songs can help women feel happy, relaxed, and calm throughout the stages of their pregnancy. Overall, music, especially soft-classical music, can stimulate a sense of happiness within the mother and also ensures that her baby is in good health as well.
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