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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCSB chapter.

I can’t get through a day without listening to music. Whether it’s instrumental music to help me focus on my homework or my chill mix to relax to at the end of the day, music is always with me. My music often reflects my moods, although sometimes, music has the opposite effect. Music has the capability of altering what I’m feeling in the moment: the erratic violins in horror movies can make me feel tense, whereas melancholic notes and lyricism can abruptly dampen my mood (I’m looking at Mitski). All in all, music’s influence over our emotions, thoughts, and beliefs is more powerful than you think, as it seems to be ingrained within us.

To start, the relationship between music and the brain has been discussed back with Plato, who theorized that various kinds of music can influence a person’s emotions in an educational and political sense. This debate eventually morphed into one about music’s sensuous dimensions: how do sounds arouse specific emotions, memories, and even other psychological responses?

Well, it all begins with blood flow. When we hear our favorite songs, blood moves faster toward the limbic system in our brains, which is involved in processing emotions and memory. Our bodies can physically react as well, which can appear as the dilation of our pupils, the chills dancing along our arms, or the rhythm of our breaths. These reactions are connected to the release of dopamine we receive upon hearing familiar notes, as it’s become pleasurable the more we hear it. In turn, because our emotions enhance our working memories, music is intrinsically tied to our past experiences.

For instance, Susan Magsamen from Time Magazine shared her connection to the song, “Drift Away,” divulging how it had brought her to tears. “We are wired for music. We bring the world into our bodies and brains through our senses,” she writes. “It soothes us, inspires us, makes us happy, guides and directs us, validates our feelings and connects us to our deeply human needs and nature.” Music can support our mental wellbeing, and not only this, but creating our own music is just as powerful and influential.

“Mothers sing to their babies to help relieve symptoms of postpartum depression and enhance bonding by reducing cortisol, a major stress hormone,” Magsamen shares. “And people with dementia are singing, too, accessing autobiographical musical memories encoded in multiple brain regions that have not been damaged by the disease.” Music aids in the healing process, and can be sources of comfort and nostalgia, inspiration and excitement. Music allows people to flourish, whether that be in facing or soothing one’s feelings, and it’s something that especially helps with focus.

I’ve always found it difficult to sustain my attention on school assignments, but by incorporating music into my work habits, it’s become much easier to face my daunting pile of homework awaiting me. This is because music can help one’s brain absorb and interpret information more efficiently, suggesting that it can “engage your brain in such a way that it trains it to pay better attention to events and make predictions about what might happen.” With so much on our plates, music can serve as both an outlet for relaxation, but also assist us when it comes to our own motivations and excelling in our studies, work, and other complicated aspects of our lives.

Once again, the way we interact with music is both personal and unique; it can be a transformative experience for some, and a method of coping for others. I personally need to have music playing 24/7 — whether it be from video game soundtracks to 90s rock to musical soundtracks (Hamilton goes so hard) — and I know plenty of others feel the same way. After all, music is something that connects us: we bond through concerts, during films, or even at parties. Music is a deeply human thing, and its impacts will continue to be felt.

Sofia is a third-year Writing & Literature major at UCSB. In her free time, she enjoys watching anime, playing video games, and drinking chai tea.