We have all enjoyed it, we have all fallen in love with it. Moving at different frequencies, the magic of music has made many people around the world tap their fingers and bust a move without even physically realising it. To understand the reason behind this, scientists have researched for years to study the effects of music on the brain.
This article will explain exactly how music affects the brain, based on those research works.
What happens in the brain when listening to music?
There are multiple reactions that take place in our brain when listening to music. Obviously, the brain is complex, but let’s try to make the answer simple.
The complex part is that this dopamine releases not just when the music reaches its peak notes, but also when we anticipate them.
Musical notes and beats also play an interesting role with the brain, when we listen to music with a fast beat, it stimulates the brain waves and encourages more concentration and alert thinking. When we listen to music with a slow beat, it stimulates the brain waves into a relaxed and meditative state of mind.
Related article: Why do we prefer some people’s voices over others?
How does music activate the brain?
In a series of studies done in 2006, it was found that the right hemisphere of the brain is responsible for our ability to process music. Even then, the same research work shows that the complete processing procedure uses the help of the left hemisphere as well as the hippocampus (and lower parts of the frontal lobe).
Another research article by Harvard medical school shows that music activates the broadest and most diverse networks of the brain. Music activates the auditory cortex in the temporal lobes close to your ears, to begin with. It also activates our emotional brain waves and synchronises our mood to the rhythm. Furthermore, it also activates our memory regions as well as the motor system which allows us to pick up the musical beat and vibe with it.
Related article: 5 ways that sound affects the human body
How does music negatively affect the brain?
As said before, music activates our emotional brain waves and synchronises our mood to the rhythm. It is hard to deny the wonderful effects, music can have on people, yet there are studies that show possible negative effects as well.
A study in 2020 by the British journal of criminology showed that hip-hop music or drill music with violent lyrics can be associated with attention-seeking crime.
The researchers also agreed that it could be possible that those with violent tendencies prefer drill music rather than the music causing the behavior.
Another study done by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2003 showed that the students who listened to violent music resulted being more aggressive and hostile in thought after listening to violent music.
“Music isn’t going to cure anything, but it definitely can play a therapeutic role,” -
Dr. Jonathan Burdette (Research Professor)
What happens when you listen to music too much?
We have all heard the saying “too much of anything is bad for you”, and yes! it is true for sound as well. When you listen to too much music, especially loud music, it can result in hearing reduction or other hearing issues such as tinnitus and even ultimately hearing loss.
There are thousands of sound-sensing cells called hair cells essential for hearing in our cochlea, which is the hearing organ found deep inside our ears.
They are responsible for converting the sound waves into electrical signals which are then sent to the brain.
Research shows that prolonged exposure to noise above 70dB can damage our hearing potential.
When these hair cells are overexposed to sound, they get fatigued and stop responding to sound resulting in hearing reduction. This effect can last up to a few days depending upon the severity of the exposure.
If not treated or cared for at this point, the situation can easily lead to permanent hearing loss.
How does loud music affect the brain compared to mild music?
The volume that you choose to listen to music plays a major role in your hearing wellness. Most of us tend to turn the sound up, just so that the loudness of the music can take over other interruptions.
While this seems to work for the situation, loud music can permanently damage your ears.
Furthermore prolonged exposure to this loud noise can change the way the brain processes speech, leading to difficulty in distinguishing speech sounds, according to neuroscientists. It is therefore highly recommended to take care of your hearing health by choosing calm venues to work, study, meet or date.
A representation of the levels of loud music with respect to how harmful they are is given below
Pic courtesy: American Academy of audiology
Why is it important to go to social spaces with a good musical ambiance
Music creates a wonderful ambiance, atmosphere, and entertainment for anyone and everyone enjoying a social space.
A study conducted in 2018, by startle under customer service showed that a calm musical ambiance in their restaurant increased the customer’s enjoyment of eating out, as well as encouraged them to relax, unwind and start conversations.
What is Mumbli doing to ensure hearing wellness and musical ambiance?
Being experts in the hearing wellness industry, Mumbli has come up with a smart device that is being placed in pubs, restaurants, cafes, and other social spaces across London.
This smart device enables the venue owner to analyse conversation quality and decibel readings every hour so that they can adjust their music accordingly.
By permanently installing this device, the venue not only gets certified for sound but also ensures all customers a good musical ambiance and sound wellness.
Create your free hearing personality profile and find out about London's best sound optimised restaurants, pubs, cafes, and other social spaces tailored to your hearing sensitivity.
- Characterization of functional brain connectivity towards optimization of music selection for therapy: a fMRI study -
- Mighty expert - Music and the Brain: Research, Effects, and Benefits -
- NHS - tinnitus
- Centers for disease control and prevention - What Noises Cause Hearing Loss?
- RNID - Listen to music safely