I’ve noticed that music can lighten my mood if I’m unhappy. Depress me if I’m sad. Give me that extra energy to go just a bit more on some task or other when I’m tired. Music, even when it’s the music of wind in the leaves and birds at the feeder, makes life just more “there”.
For many years, I’ve noticed that when the music fits a movie it adds to the viewing and the story. When the sounds are right and the music is right you don’t even notice it it just stays in the background — but it can make you cry more at the sad parts, shudder at the scary parts, and thrill to the adventure — it adds to the story but in a way you don’t even notice.
Today, this article in ScienceDaily caught my eye, or rather the title did, “Scary Music Is Scarier With Your Eyes Shut“. Prof. Talma Hendler and Dr. Yulia Lerner at Tel Aviv Universities Functional Brain Center studied people listening to scary music with their eyes open and closed and found some interesting results:
15 healthy volunteers listen to spooky Hitchcock-style music, and then neutral sounds with no musical melody. They listened to these twice, once with their eyes open and a second time with their eyes shut, as she monitored their brain activity with an fMRI. While volunteers were listening to the scary music, Dr. Lerner found that brain activity peaked when the subjects’ eyes were closed. This medical finding corresponded to volunteer feedback that the subjects felt more emotionally charged by the scary music.
The amygdala, the region of the brain in which emotions are located, was significantly more active when the subjects’ eyes were closed. “It’s possible that closing one’s eyes during an emotional stimulation, like in our research, may help people through a variety of mental states. It synchs connectivity in the brain,” Dr. Hendler says.
They’re hoping that this research can be used to design future studies that could help people with dementia and systemic brain disorders.
Music brings balance to the brain and more readily integrates the affective and cognitive centers of our mind. Music may help us think better and even improve our learning abilities.
I don’t know about people with actual physical neurological problems but for many years Hollywood has been experimenting on hundreds of thousands of people by using music to play with their emotions. Just as many students use music to help them concentrate on their studies. Workers the world over use music to mask annoying background chatter so that they can work effectively. Many people have used music to regulate their movements so that everyone is in sync when group efforts are required (rowing, lifting heavy objects, etc.). Guess now science has caught up.
Tags: Music, neurobiology, neuroscience, perception