The power of music on the brain 2023

The power of music on the brain 2023

Sing, dance, and move to the beat: it’s good for your mood, memory, and more.

In Spanish | If you want to do something good for your brain, turn on the music player and sing some songs. Better yet, sing and dance at the same time.

It seems like a simple exercise but a workout for the brain. This happens because music stimulates many brain areas, such as those responsible for memory, movement, and mood, according to a new report from the AARP-funded Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH). Moreover, music even stimulates the activity of various brain areas at the same time.

“Nothing activates the brain like music,” says Jonathan Burdette, a professor of neuroradiology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and a contributor to the GCBH report.

All that brain activation produces essential health benefits. For example, researchers have revealed that music can improve sleep and memory, relieve stress, and stimulate thinking skills, which have helped keep our brains healthy over the years.

The power of music on the brain 2023

Music helps maintain your brain health.

“Music makes everything we know about brain enhancement easier,” says Sarah Lenz Lock, AARP Senior Vice President of Brain Health and Policy and executive director of the GCBH. “It makes the medicine taste better.”

Music lifts the mood and inspires movement.

When the music reaches the ears, the sound waves are converted into nerve impulses that travel to various areas of the brain, including those that release dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in regulating pleasure, explains Psyche Loui, an associate professor in the department of music from Northeastern University and director of the Imaging and Neural Dynamics (MIND) Laboratory.

In other words, listening to music “makes you feel better,” says Burdette, who points out that no one type of music is better than another when it comes to its mood-lifting benefits. It all depends on personal preferences, whether it is Mozart or Madonna.

The power of music on the brain 2023

“Music makes everything we know about brain enhancement easier. It makes the medicine taste better.”

– Sarah Lenz Lock, AARP Senior Vice President of Policy and Brain Health and Executive Director of the GCBH

A 2020 AARP survey of 3,100 adults found that a higher percentage of people who listen to music rate aspects of their quality of life and happiness as excellent or very good. They also report lower mean levels of anxiety and depression.

What’s more, music promotes social interactions, another benefit for the brain. When adults sing or perform together, they feel less lonely and have a better quality of life than adults who don’t create music with others, says Julene Johnson, a professor at the Institute for Health and Aging at the University of California, San Francis (UCSF). Furthermore, according to previous GCBH studies, social ties and improved mental well-being are associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline and better brain health.

Eight ways to unleash the power of music

1. Bring music to your life and share it with friends and family. Music can improve well-being and even the quality of life.

2. Dance, sing or move to music to exercise, relieve stress, build social bonds and stimulate the brain.

3. Listen to familiar music that comforts you and evokes memories and positive connections.

4. Also, try listening to music you don’t know. Unfamiliar melodies can stimulate the brain.

5. Listen to music to motivate you to exercise. Music can provide a mental boost and help push you to move your body.

6. Get your hearing tested. Correcting hearing loss is important

 for maintaining brain health, preserving cognitive function, and enjoying music.

7. Sing or play an instrument to create music yourself.

8. Participates in musical activities with other people. For example, try starting a community choir, band, or orchestra, or get involved in an existing group.

In addition to lifting your mood, music promotes movement, which is another critical component of brain health. Recent research reveals that one of the best ways to protect brain health as you age is to adopt healthier lifestyle habits that include regular physical activity. And music can be a pleasant way to exercise, warns the GCBH. The report explains that music can make it seem easier to exercise and help speed recovery after intense exercise.

“Music fosters this balance between creativity and predictability, and I think it helps the brain learn, which is satisfying,” says Loui, a GCBH contributor. “I also think balance is perfect for the brain, especially aging.”

The power of music on the brain 2023

Music also has therapeutic powers.

Experts are harnessing the power of music to help adults recover from diseases and brain injuries and alleviate the symptoms they cause.

One of the examples can be seen in rehabilitation after a stroke. Many adults who have a stroke lose the ability to speak. However, they can often still sing, and music therapists can help stroke survivors regain speech through singing. Similarly, many adults with Parkinson’s disease struggle to walk, but music and dance can strengthen their movement and improve their gait.

“The unique aspect of music and dance is that their rhythmic structure provides an external beat or pulse” that can help the brain restore movement that has been impaired, according to UCSF’s Johnson.

With older adults living with dementia, caregivers and therapists use music to evoke memories. For example, a childhood song can help a patient remember people and places from that time. Music can also treat agitation caused by dementia, “which can manifest as aggression, wandering, restlessness, and other inappropriate behaviors,” according to the GCBH report.

Music can improve brain health now.

The best news from the report is that it takes very little time, money, and effort to realize the brain benefits of music. The report recommends singing and dancing more, listening to new and familiar songs, and making music with others.

Of course, playing an instrument is also good for the brain because it requires using many cognitive skills, such as attention and memory. “But not everyone can do it,” observes Burdette of Wake Forrest. “And I don’t want anyone to feel bad for not learning to play the violin at 75.” Instead, she points out; it’s about making a place for music in your life more generally. Even just listening to music has its benefits, says AARP’s Lock.

The power of music on the brain 2023

How each musical genre affects your brain

(CNN Mexico) – A good rhythm can change a life, or not? From childhood, exposure to sounds and appropriate music can help us fully develop our brain capacities, which implies greater capacity for memory, attention, and concentration, better math and language skills, and an excellent ability to solve problems.

The ear is not only used to listen; it also determines balance and stimulates the brain in its different areas, according to Alfred Tomatis, a French otolaryngologist, psychologist, and researcher, who devoted much of his efforts to developing a method to treat hearing problems and language.

His research has extended its scope to the point that his method now has applications in various fields of physical, mental, and emotional health and development, according to the society of therapists Tomatis Développement SA, which has members in more than 40 countries.

However, not all music is good or serves the same purpose. For example, some types of music stimulate creativity and imagination, while others help establish healthy interpersonal relationships and integrate into society and their environment. And some more, linked to dance, also provide better physical conditioning and, sometimes, support therapeutic processes.

The power of music on the brain 2023

Classical music

It is a myth that classical music makes us more intelligent, but listening to it for at least half an hour a day provides the brain with a better environment to develop ideas and reestablish neural connections that will help us stay alert, focus better and optimize the learning processes.

Some recommendations by María Pilar Carrasco in her book How to educate your children with music point out that baroque music achieves favorable states for learning thanks to its rhythm of 60 beats, equivalent to the heartbeat when we are at rest.

In addition, its low tones cause low brain waves -relaxation-. Some examples are Largo de Invierno from The Four Seasons. Concerto length in D major for strings and guitar. Concerto in C major for harpsichord and mandolin, all by Vivaldi, and Largo from concerto for harpsichord in F minor Opus 1056, by Bach.

Melodies with shorter vibrations, faster rhythm, and more agile notes provoke a constant state of alertness conducive to active learning, such as the Prague Symphony and Mozart’s Concerto for violin and orchestra number 5 in A primary; Beethoven’s Concerto No. 1 for piano and orchestra itself, all Chopin’s waltzes or Tchaikovsky’s Concerto No. 1 for piano and orchestra.

And to revitalize the brain after intense intellectual work, there is nothing like giving it a massage with Gregorian chants, music with sounds of nature, or Mozart’s violin or string quartet music.


Lilac and happy salsa provide the brain with a combination of dopamine and adrenaline, which relaxes and activates simultaneously, says physical therapist Felipe Gutiérrez, a specialist in sports rehabilitation.

As a generator of movement, salsa music produces numerous physical, emotional, and mental benefits. For example, it relieves stress, increases cardiorespiratory capacity, and improves coordination and balance, says Fernando Hernández, a Zumba teacher at the Coyoacán delegation in the city of Mexico.

“These rhythms —salsa and bachata— serve me to relax in the last stage of my classes. With them, I keep my body moving. But, at the same time, the intensity that we reach with rhythms of greater impact such as rock, pop, electronic music, and the band decreases”, adds the physical trainer, also specialized in Pilates.

The power of music on the brain 2023


It is said that to write his novels, Stephen King listens to rock. True or not, in his theories of the Mozart Effect, Don Campbell has written a lot about the difficulty of finding concentration to generate ideas in the company of such dense and accelerated rhythms. However, he highlights the ability to inject adrenaline into the brain.

In this sense, Fernando Hernández explains that in his Zumba classes, he uses rock music for physical conditioning, resistance, and strength. “It’s when the students feel most active and perform the strongest routines.”

Various studies have linked rock music to an increase in endurance when exercising. Particularly rock and pop help to improve physical performance in cardiovascular activities, according to Javier Yangunas in his essay Influence of Music on Sports Performance, from 2006.


Beyond the rhythms and vibrations, paying attention to our tastes is essential. For example, research and studies from various universities in the United States recognize the benefits of “pleasant music” to treat chronic pain, cardiovascular problems, stress, and some mental illnesses.

The common denominator in all the results is the “pleasure” factor. Dopamine and other chemicals released in the brain while listening to music help the brain and the human body balance their reactions and relax, which in effect causes a feeling of general well-being, according to the association for Mental Education, Ingenium ABP.

Likewise, the regulation of heart rate and the relaxation caused by pleasant music complement the positive effects on the cerebral level. The result will be the opposite if we don’t like the music.

The power of music on the brain 2023

music and mood

The beneficial effects of music on mental health have been known for thousands of years. Ancient philosophers from Plato to Confucius and the descendants of Israel sang musical praises and used them to defuse tension. Military bands use music to build confidence and courage. Sporting events provide music to incite enthusiasm. Children at school use music to memorize the alphabet. Malls play music to attract consumers and keep them in the store. Dentists play music to calm nervous patients. Modern research supports the conventional wisdom that music benefits mood and confidence.

Due to our unique experiences, we develop different musical tastes and preferences. Despite these differences, there are some common responses to music. Babies love lullabies. The mother’s song is particularly soothing, no matter what a mother’s talents or formal musical training. Certain kinds of music make almost everyone feel worse, even when someone says they enjoy it; In a study of 144 adults and adolescents who listened to 4 different types of music, “grunge” music induced significant increases in hostility, sadness, tension, and fatigue among the entire group, even among adolescents who said they liked it. In another study, college students reported that pop, rock,

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Music, attention, and learning

Anyone who has learned the alphabet knows it is easier to memorize a list if it is set to music. Scientific research supports the shared experience that matching music to rhythm and pitch improves learning and memory. Music helps children and adolescents with attention problems in several ways:

  1. It can be used as a reward for desired behavior. For example, for paying attention to homework for 10 minutes, a child might be rewarded with the opportunity to listen to music for 5 minutes.
  2. It can help improve concentration in “boring” academic tasks such as memorization, using songs, rhythms, and dance or movement to enhance the interest of the lists. Instrumental baroque music is excellent for improving attention and reasoning. For students, playing background music is not distracting.
  3. Music tracks can help organize activities, one type of music for one move (studying), another for a different activity (eating), and a third type for going to bed.
  4. Studies show that calm music can promote prosocial behavior and decrease impulsive behavior.

The power of music on the brain 2023

music and anxiety

Many people find familiar music comforting and calming. Music is so effective in reducing anxiety that it is often used in dental, preoperative, and radiation therapy settings to help patients address concerns about procedures. Music helps reduce stress in older adults, new moms, and children. Music’s ability to banish worries is embodied in the lyrics of Rogers and Hammerstein,

“When I feel afraid, I hold my head up

and whistle a happy tune so that no one suspects I am afraid…

And each time,

the happiness of the tune convinces me that I am not afraid.”

Any relaxing, calming music can contribute to calmer moods. Calming music can be combined with cognitive therapy to reduce anxiety even more effectively than conventional therapy alone.

Some studies suggest that specially designed music, such as music that includes intonations that intentionally induce rhythms for both ears that put the brain waves into a relaxed delta or zeta rhythms, may help improve symptoms in anxious patients even more than music without these intonations; listening to this music without other distraction (not while driving, cooking, talking or reading) promotes the best benefits.

music and moods

An analysis of 5 studies on music for depression concluded that music therapy is not only acceptable for depressed patients but helps improve their moods. In addition, the piece helps help patients with severe medical conditions such as cancer, burns, and multiple sclerosis who are also depressed. If you can help in these situations, you may be able to help yourself, and your loved ones experience more positive states of mind.

The power of music on the brain 2023

music and sleep

Many people listen to relaxing music to help them fall asleep. Studies in various settings support this practice. For example, wait to listen to energetic dance music or invigorating marches before trying to sleep. Conversely, choose up-tempo music over lullabies if you’re trying to wake up in the morning.

music and stress

Since ancient times, it has been known that certain types of music can help relieve stress. For example, calming background music can significantly reduce irritability and promote calm in nursing home patients with dementia. The theme, widely chosen, reduces stress hormone levels. On the other hand, every teenager’s parent knows that certain types of music, particularly at very high volumes, can induce stress. Knowing that certain types of music can relieve stress is one thing; being careful in choosing what music to listen to is another. Choose your theme as carefully as you choose your food and your friends.

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The power of music on the brain 2023

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