The Incredible Effect That Music And Singing Has On The Brain
Music, arguably the most powerful form of communication achieved by humanity. No combination of words can describe the effect that a setting with the perfect musical accompaniment can have on an individual. Music has the ability to affect our emotions and our psychology; it can spark motivation, assuage loneliness, excite the calm, and calm the excited. How is it that this mysterious, intangible form of art allows our thoughts, emotions, and state of mind to be so powerfully influenced? Emotions influenced by music are just as physiologically calculable as emotions experienced under any other circumstance. This means that music, with the proper conditions, can be used as a sort of tool to help guide a person's emotional disposition to a calmed, tranquil state during a time of dejection or apprehension.
Published in the Lancet Journal, Dr. Catherine Meads and her team of researchers at Brunel University confirmed that listening to music before, during, and after surgery helps with pre-op jitters, muscle resilience, and the outlook and recovery of the patient. After the comparative review of about 7,000 patient reports, the team found that those who had music playing in the operating theater demonstrated a significant reduction in postoperative pain, anxiety, and the need for pain relief medication. "Music is a non-invasive, safe, cheap intervention that should be available to everyone undergoing surgery," said Meads. The physiological applications of music do not end in the operating room. It has been found that the simple act of singing a tune brings about a sense of elation from the mixture of endorphins and hormones released in the body while singing, similar to the effects of the meditative 'om'.
Oxytocin, a hormone that is released while singing, is known to alleviate anxiety and stress. It is also associated with the senses of trust and bonding, which may explain the euphoric connectivity experienced while singing in the presence of others. A 2005 study at the University of Sheffield explored the effects of singing with a group and reported that it "can produce satisfying and therapeutic sensations even when the sound produced by the vocal instrument is of mediocre quality." One does not need to be a great singer to reap the rewards. As it turns out, the benefits of singing regularly are cumulative. Singers have been found to have lower than average cortisol levels, which directly correlates to low stress. One study investigates musical structure's ability to determine heart rate variability. The findings suggest that the heart rates of a group of singers can sync up to produce a sort of guided group meditation, the result of which can be quite profound. There is another study being conducted by Dr. Julene K. Johnson that may find group singing to be an affordable and effective method of improving the health and well-being of older adults. Singing for your health doesn't require a ton of rehearsal or preparation, a little vocal warm-up and you are good to go. It can be done by yourself any time you deem appropriate, casually with a gathering of friends or colleagues, or perhaps formally with a local choir. Music is more than just an enjoyable commodity, the stress relieving benefits make music an essential tool for surviving the stresses of life. References
Bailey, B., and J. Davidson. "Effects of Group Singing and Performance for Marginalized and Middle-class Singers." Sage Journals: Psychology of Music. Society for Education, Music, and Psychology Research, n.d. Web. Gale, N., S. Enright, C. Reagon, I. Lewis, and R. Van Deursen. "Result Filters." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 09 Sept. 2015. Hole, J., MBBS, M. Hirsch, MBBS, E. Ball, PhD, and C. Meads, PhD. "Music as an Aid for Postoperative Recovery in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis." The Lancet. N.p., n.d. Web. Horn, Stacy. "Singing Changes Your Brain | TIME.com." Ideas Singing Changes Your Brain Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Sept. 2015. "Research Confirms Listening to Music during Surgery Reduces Pain and Anxiety." Brunal University London. N.p., n.d. Web.
Vickhoff, B., H. Malmgren, R. Åström, G. Nyberg, S. Ekström, M. Engwall, J. Snygg, M. Nilsson, and R. Jörnsten. "Music Structure Determines Heart Rate Variability of Singers." Frontiers. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Sept. 2015.