One thing that never fails to comfort me after a bad day, is some beat music playing in full volume on my headphones. It has always made me feel better no matter how intense my emotions are. And suddenly one day I grew curious to know how could a mere fast rhythm make me feel better. That’s when I reached out to our knowledge bank, Google! And here is what I first came across: ‘Loud music relieves stress’
It is studied that listening to loud music, releases endorphins. In layman’s terms, it increases our feeling of pleasure and well-being and reduces pain and discomfort. Additionally, our body also releases dopamine when ‘The’ song plays and reaches its peak. The sensation is called Frisson when we feel a sudden chill – a feeling of excitement, a thrill. When we feel frisson, dopamine floods our body, thus interacting with our brain’s pleasure and reward center, helping us feel happy.
When researched further, it was found that people who felt this frisson reaction to highly emotional music actually had more nerve fibers in their brain connection the auditory cortex to the anterior insular cortex. In other words, this means they had more connections between the sound and emotion processing portion of the brain.
Robert Zatorre, a neuroscientist of McGill University explained in an interview, “This interaction between auditory and emotion systems is the basis for musical pleasure. People who get more of a direct ‘thrill’ from music have a stronger connection.” However, it is also found that it is hard to know whether or not this is learned over time or these people naturally had more fibers.
There are other surprising effects music can have on our minds, irrespective of volume level.
Music, sound and Emotions
Stating the obvious, listening to varied rhythms, and sounds influences one’s emotions. Of course, different people express different emotions on listening to music. In an attempt to learn the psychology of emotional reaction to music, psychologist Juslin found the following:
We human tend to ‘catch’ the emotions of those around when perceiving their emotional expression. Similarly, we catch the emotions of the song with the tune and rhythm and carry the same emotion on our minds. This is an unavoidable happening since our brain uses the ‘esthetic judgment’ mechanism, which makes us feel pleasure, listening to music, in response to our perception of the beauty of music. This is also the explanation why our brain experiences pleasurable sadness when we listen to sad music.
Our internal rhythms, such as our heartbeat, pace down, or up to become one with the music. This is another source of pleasure. For instance, we use soothing baby lullabies to calm infants and help them fall asleep. Researchers have found that their breathing rhythm becomes synchronized with the musical rhythm.
The startling effect:
Our reflexes are hardwired for quick and automatic responses to sound loud, intense, or dissonant music. These responses of our brainstem are associated with surprise, laughter, or sometimes fear.
The positive feeling:
Music mostly makes us feel good. With dopamine and endorphins releasing, we feel happy and energized. Such positive feelings tend to broaden our mindset in ways that are beneficial to health and creative cognitive thinking.
Blocks the world:
Loud music takes over our brain since it overwhelms other senses in a way that is similar to alcohol or drugs. Sometimes it can get difficult if there is a need to focus on other things when listening to a loud radio playing. On the other hand, it can be used to enjoy the emotion of the music and feel consumed by blocking out the world.
Moderation is the key
To sum up, music is capable of rousing both emotional and psychological responses. Compared to any other form of art, music requires very little conscious reflection, hence letting our minds function more rapidly and intensely. However, like they say too much of a good thing can be dangerous, take care of those precious ears.