How Music Affects the Human Brain

Music plays a giant role in all of our lives. We all sing in the shower, jam out in the car, let out a good cry to our “simp” playlist on Spotify, and keep lo-fi on repeat as we study. Some songs give us the goosebumps, some remind us of past memories (both happy and sad ones), and some have us moving to the beat through our earbuds (and makes us look like a crazy person in the library). Because there’s such a wide range of music, I wondered why music makes us feel the way we do, and why we associate specific genres to specific actions.

It’s been proven by scientists that listening to music reduces our stress by lowering levels of cortisol in our system, the hormone that stresses us out, and increases levels of dopamine, the hormone that makes us happy. But let’s dive deeper into the specifics. 

Diva in the Shower

Admit it. We all turn into Mariah Carey once the water starts running. We’re filled with happy energy (from the dopamine being released), which helps us de-stress and boosts our mood. Plus, the steam from the shower means there’s more oxygen circulating in our bloodstream, which is not only healthy for our bodies, but also improves our mood. It puts you in the same positive, relaxed headspace that meditation puts you in! Coupled with privacy and the awesome acoustics of our bathroom, no wonder we’re singing like we’re on The Voice. So moral of the story: sing your heart out! It’s good for you! 

Image via Giphy

That One Simp Playlist

It happens to all of us. Spotify shuffle hits us with that one specific tear-jerking song that gives us the goosebumps and brings back all these old memories. Before you know it, you’re already crying. But did you know that the chills you get are actually good chills? It’s because of the dopamine being released in your body, so they’re actually “happy chills” (even though it might not feel like it.) Sometimes, depending on the song, it could even be a specific chord progression or moving line that hits us a little bit too hard on the emotional spectrum. Or the lyrics could mysteriously match up with what’s happening in our lives and suddenly everything is a little bit too real. But crying isn’t a bad thing. Let out those emotions and hopefully the next song will lift your sprits back up.

Image via Giphy

Study Queen

We’ve probably all listened to the 24 hour lofi hip hop radio on Youtube to study, or made our own personal “chill study” playlist for finals season. Most of those songs are probably laid-back, relaxing, and occasionally lyric-less. According to Dr. Masha Godkin, music activates both sides of our brain, which helps us retain more information. This probably won’t apply to all types of music. Imagine trying to study for finals with heavy metal blasting through your earbuds! It’s better to stick with chill songs, like lofi or classical, because lyrics can be distracting, and you’ll find yourself singing along to that one Ariana Grande song you really love instead of working on your essay.

Image via Giphy

The human brain is a fascinating thing, but one thing’s for sure: music is the medicine for the brain. Keep jamming out in the shower and let those tears flow every once in a while because it’s actually good for you. Happy listening!