Music Expands the Mind

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A good beat can do wonders for the brain.

It’s often been said that playing classical music near a pregnant woman ensures the baby will be born smarter. I don’t know if that’s actually true or not, but what I do know is that listening to music can provide some very real benefits to people who are, y’know, already born.

Research shows that listening to music engages your brain, which in turn makes it easier for you to learn and internalize new concepts. Some good music also helps you to move information to your long-term memory, though some have difficulty focusing while listening to certain kinds of music, especially songs with lyrics.

Even if you’re not trying to learn stuff, though, music stimulates your brain in ways that are beneficial for your mood and long-term mental health. Your favorite song causes your brain to release positive, stress-reliving chemicals like serotonin, cortisol, oxytocin, and dopamine. Some studies have even shown that while you can’t reverse the onset of conditions like Alzheimer’s with music, you can use music to slow its encroachment.

Other studies have shown that music has a direct benefit on your physical being. It’s not surprising; your brain likes music, your brain runs your body. Happy brain, happy body. Music can subtly alter your breathing rate and pulse; a fast-paced song energizes you and gets your blood circulating, which is good for your heart. Something with a good rhythm makes exercising easier and more efficient (not to mention more fun). Music therapy has also been used as an experimental supplement to pain medication, and it has been shown to make the body more resistant to pain.

So whether you’re working, studying, or exercising, you can’t go wrong with a quality backing soundtrack. There’s a reason “lo-fi hip-hop radio” is one of the most watched videos on YouTube, y’know.