The idea that music can improve the health of human beings has been around for a very long time and is known to have existed in Greek and Native American traditions. The scientific development of the past century has allowed researchers to study the effect of music on people with great detail. As a consequence, music therapy has been identified as a huge help in dealing with conditions like depression, sleeplessness, pain, and so on.
Dealing with depression
Research conducted by the McGill University of Canada found that people who hear agreeable music produce higher levels of dopamine, a chemical known to regulate the pleasure system of the brain. This essentially makes a person feel joyful, lowering depressive feelings. A 2015 review of research publications about music therapy concluded that it led to a huge reduction in symptoms of depression in patients and improved their quality of life. A study by the Namm Foundation reports that music reduces stress right down to the molecular level.
Improved academic performance
A professor from UCLA looked at the academic achievements of about 6,500 low-income students. He found that almost 41 percent of the students who had taken up art courses like music and painting ended up in the top half of the standardized tests. Scientific studies have also shown that music increases the plasticity of the brain, changing it in a way that allows it to respond more enthusiastically to learning.
The rhythm in music has a direct effect on the alertness of the brain. The faster the rhythm, the more alert people are. Music with a slower rhythm makes people calmer and relaxed, creating an environment ideal for learning. A report published in the journal Psychology of Music found that kids who were given multi-year music tuition displayed better reading skills when compared to children who never had music training.
Music has the power to alter the perception of pain. Patients who suffer from chronic pain often report reduced pain levels when exposed to music. Though there are no clear answers as to why this happens, some hypothesize that music might affect the brain’s subcortex. As such, it might regulate the flow of neurochemicals that affect the way a person feels, including their sensation of pain.
Helpful against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
A review of 21 studies discovered that music helps Alzheimer’s patients improve their mood, cognition, and behavior. The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America recognizes that music has the ability to help patients manage stress, coordinate motor movements, and stimulate positive interactions. A study conducted on 40 people suffering from Parkinson’s also showed promising results with music therapy. Researchers found that music alleviates the symptoms of Parkinson’s, including walking difficulties and tremors. For the study, the participants were made to sit or lie down on a mat or chair and were exposed to computer-generated, low-frequency sound.
Sleeplessness is a serious problem in today’s hectic world. According to the Center for Cardiovascular Disease in China, hearing music before and during sleep helps prevent chronic sleep disorders. A British Medical Journal report states that people who played an Australian wind instrument called the didgeridoo for about 30 minutes every day, 6 days a week, experienced a huge improvement in their quality of sleep. The instrument apparently strengthened throat and tongue muscles, which helped in treating sleep issues.