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Undeniable Benefits of Listening to Music According to Science

Last updated: 4 weeks ago
6 min read

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People spend 2.6 hours per day listening to music (or 18.4 hours per week). After reading this article, you will want to listen even more.

Music has countless benefits to our health and mental well-being. No wonder we love listening to it all day long.

Learn many benefits of listening to music, from improving mood, mental health and even reducing crime.

Guy with a boombox speaker

Benefits of Listening to Music

Benefits of Listening to Music According to Science

Why do people listen to music?

Music Connects People

Music is a kind of universal language that everyone understands. It’s still firmly embedded into our culture. The best examples of that are:

  • National anthems invoke patriotism and connect crowds of otherwise unknown people.
  • Protests songs also work in a similar fashion.
  • Hymns connect people of common beliefs.
  • Love songs help two partners create a deeper bond.
  • Lullabies help parents and infants to create a special attachment and feeling of security.

Source: (FP)

Music is a Universal Language

When exposing people of different cultures and music tastes to music that expresses different emotions (sadness, excitement, relaxation), all participants showed a similar emotional and physical response.

This is probably due to certain low-level aspects of music such as tempo (or beat), pitch, and timbre (tone color or quality), but this will need further research,” said Hauke Egermann, one of the study authors.

Naturally, when a group of people heard familiar music (Canadians hearing western music), they still showed a wider range of emotions than people from other (more eastern) groups.

(FP 2)

What are the benefits of listening to music while studying?

Music Can Help You Learn More

Listening to music stimulates your brain function, according to doctors at Johns Hopkins. MRI scans of the participants proved that hypothesis.

Music Activates Your Entire Brain

Music highlighted parts of the brain responsible for:

  • Emotions
  • Memory
  • Learning
  • Well-being
  • Cognitive functions (focus and concentration)
  • Quality of life
  • Movement
  • Heart rate

(BetterUp)

Interestingly, people are eager to learn more when they expect to listen to music as a reward.

However, there’s a limit. It was found that music with lyrics can negatively affect learning because a person is more focused on singing. Meaning that instrumental music is the best (Johns Hopkins Medicine).

Singing Can Help You Learn Languages More Efficiently

Singing words and phrases in a foreign language helped people remember them more than those simply speaking them normally or even rhythmically.

(Springer Link)

Taking Musical Training Can Contribute to a Higher IQ

Music raises IQ. Young children (6-year-olds) who took keyboard and singing lessons (the latter did the best) for 36 weeks showed increased academic performance and higher IQ scores.

In completing standardized educational tests, musically trained children outperformed children who took drama lessons or no lessons at all.

(Plos One)

Music Increases Verbal Intelligence

90% of children aged 4-6 exposed to music lessons saw an increase in verbal intelligence. That means knowing more words and understanding their meaning.

(Pacific Standard)

Music Improves Memory

Listening to classical music helps you remember more

People listening to classical music more easily remembered short lists of words compared to those learning with white noise or in silence.

Furthermore, a similar study showed that people faster and more accurately complete simple processing tasks when listening to Mozart.

Musically trained women and children were also much better at completing verbal memory tests than untrained individuals.

(FAN)

People Who Take Music Lessons are More Likely to be Successful

People that took music training at a younger age are more creative later in life (New York Times).

Musically trained brains develop differently, having more grey matter volume. The latter isn’t necessarily the sign of greater intelligence, but it shows that brains are developing unique connections in the presence of music.

(Parenting Science)

Music Increases Productivity

Depending on how much brainpower a task requires, music can help you make repetitive tasks more enjoyable and less fatiguing.

(Science Daily)

What are the benefits of listening to happy music?

Listening to Happy Music Boosts Your Creativity

One study showed that exposing people to happy music can facilitate divergent thinking. They started thinking “out of the box,” looking at things from different perspectives.

(Plos One 2)

How music affects mental health?

Listening to Music Affects Your Brain Functions & Mental Health

Music affects the amount of brain-changing neurochemicals released:

  • Dopamine (the hormone associated with pleasure and sensation when anticipating a reward).
  • Cortisol (stress hormone).
  • Serotonin (happiness hormone that regulates your appetite, contributes to better quality sleep, bone density, blood quality, and boosting your immunity) (FCM).
  • Oxytocin (a “love” hormone that plays a key role during social bonding, released during sexual activity and childbirth) (Science Direct).

Music Can Help with Dementia

Music memory is very resistant to dementia. 

Meaning music can ease some dementia and Alzheimer’s disease symptoms, helping people remember flashbacks from their lives. 

Not only that, but people tend to feel more relaxed and open to conversation when listening to music. It helps with bonding and developing trust between patients and caregivers.

(BMC)

What are the psychological facts about music?

Music Affects the Mood

It helps people regulate their emotions, completely change their moods, or process their feelings.

(FP 3)

Music Reduces Anxiety

Music activates the part of the brain called the amygdala, which is involved in processing emotions and moods. It boosts the production of dopamine, a pleasure hormone. The latter helps reduce anxiety and depression.

(NIH)

Music Lowers Stress

Music reduces stress after a stressful event

While music can’t prepare you for future stressful situations, it can help you reduce stress after a stressful event by releasing biochemical stress reducers (regulating cortisol levels).

(Psychology Today)

Music Reduces Depression

However, it’s essential which music genre you listen to. Positive music or even neutral music works best. Genres with the most favorable results were jazz and classical (FP 4).

Interestingly, even rap, when containing inspiring narratives within lyrics, can help fight depression. The study showed it empowers the listeners and gives them street knowledge and resilience (The Lancet).

Meanwhile, nostalgic and sadder tunes can negatively affect and further worsen depression (FP 5).

Genres with the worst results were techno and heavy metal (NIH 2).

What are the benefits of listening to music on the brain?

Music Has an Anti-Age Effect on the Brain

Elder with +10 years of musical experience did better on cognitive tests

Healthy elder individuals (ages 60 to 83) with 10 or more years of musical experience performed better on cognitive tests than those under 9 years of musical experience. 

Those with zero musical experience did the worst.

(Health US News)

Music Helps You Relax Before & After Surgery

Researchers found that listening to relaxing music can reduce anxiety before surgery.

Similarly, patients felt more relaxed after open-heart surgery when exposed to relaxing tunes

(NIH 3)

Music Can Help with Recovery After a Stroke

The cognitive functions of stroke patients vastly improved when they listened to the music of their choice for at least 2 hours a day, especially if it contained lyrics. It helped them with auditory and verbal memory.

(EurekAlert)

Music Helps to Lessen the Physical Pain

By reducing stress and anxiety, the brain doesn’t focus as much on pain signals, so you feel less of it.

Some studies suggest sometimes music reduces pain more effectively than medication.

(NIH 4)

Music is Good for Your Heart

The effects of music on your heart are:

  • more steady blood flow
  • reduced heart rate
  • lower blood pressure
  • reduced cortisol (stress hormone) levels
  • increased serotonin (happiness hormone) and endorphin levels (BMJ).

Music might even increase the efficiency of a blood pressure medication (Nature).

What are music effects on human body during physical activity?

Music Boosts Your Energy & Motivation During Physical Activity

Music boosts your endurance and physical performance

Upbeat music with punchy bass acts as a metronome, giving you the rhythm when performing reps. You also focus less on working out and more on music, so you don’t feel as tired and do more exercise (NIH 5).

One study even showed that cyclists on static bikes increased their pedaling speed based on music’s tempo. It seems higher-tempo music affects a person’s motivation (SJM).

Pop is the best music genre to boost your endurance and physical performance (NIH 6).

Music Can Reduce Fatigue

Raising the volume of your music when feeling tired helps you stay awake, especially when performing repetitive tasks.

It can even reduce fatigue in people receiving cancer treatment.

(Plos One 3)

What are other positive effects of music?

Classical Music Can Reduce Crime

Officials in London decided to play nothing but classical music in train stations for 18 months.

VandalismRobberiesAssaults on staff
-37%-33%-25%
(Independent)

The result was a 37% decrease in vandalism, 33% fewer robberies, and 25% assaults on staff (Independent).

Music Can Help You Eat Less

Eating with music cuts calorie intake by 18%

Music while eating can cut calorie intake by 18%, based on a Cornell University study.

Diners without music ate around 949 calories, whereas diners with music ate 775 calories. That’s 175 calories less.

Interestingly, diners with music enjoyed their food more than diners without music (Cornell Chronicle).

Soft background music (accompanied by dimmed lights) can slow don’t the whole eating process and help you consume less food in one sitting (Psychology Today 2).

Music Helps You Sleep Better

Students who listened to relaxing classical music for at least 30 minutes before going to bed had a better-quality sleep than those who did their regular night routine (or listened to audiobooks) (NIH 7).

Find data on music streaming services, like Apple Music, Amazon Music, and SoundCloud.

Conclusion

It’s astonishing how many mental and physical health benefits of music there are.

And the best thing?

Unlike taking medications or going to doctors, we already love listening to music. So it’s nice to know that even if we listen to it a bit more, it doesn’t going to hurt us.

Do you know any other interesting facts about the benefits of listening to music? What is your experience with coping with problems through music?

Let us know down in the comments.

Sources: FP, FP 2, FP 3, FP 4, FP 5, BetterUp, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Springer Link, Plos One, Plos One 2, Plos One 3, Pacific Standard, FAN, New York Times, Science Daily, FCM, Science Direct, BMC, NIH, NIH 2, NIH 3, NIH 4, NIH 5, NIH 6, NIH 7, Psychology Today, Psychology Today 2, The Lancet, Health US News, EurekAlert, BMJ, Nature, SJM, Independent, Cornell Chronicle, Parenting Science

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