7 Things Music Can Do To Your Body.

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I think it’s safe to say that music is a massive part of everyone’s life. You don’t need to be a rock star, or even be able to play an instrument or sing. Music is everywhere. And everyone has their preferences.
But music has an insane amount of power, and can do a number of things. For example, here are 7 things that science says music can do to our bodies, taken from cracked.com.

1 – Repairing Brain Damage:
That’s right, music can actually help to repair brain damage. Take that neuroscience!
The Kenny Rogers Effect is a name given to what music can do in those who can only recognise half of what they see – so they may only shave half of their face, and only eat half of their meal. Music can help to lighten the effect of this damage – so that these people can more easily identify the other half of everything they see.
As well as this, patients who can no longer speak due to left-side brain damage have found that they can actually sing words, often unaided. This is just a stepping stone to being able to speak simple sentences – which is actually a huge deal for people with this kind of brain damage.

But how does this work?
As music lives on the right side of our brain, Melodic Intonation therapy takes advantage and helps patients to train the brain to associate music with language (which is on the left side of the brain). Through this, patients can learn to use the right side of their brain for things that the left side usually deals with.
Listening to pleasurable music also causes the brain to release dopamine – which can enhance the functioning of certain parts of your brain. So listening to music can have many benefits for people with brain damage, and people without.

2 – Get Over Addiction
As music can be very therapeutic, this one comes as no surprise to me. But it is actually performing music and song writing that can be of most help. Performing can be very relaxing, and often acts as a distraction for withdrawal symptoms. Song writing is helpful for giving an outlet for negative emotions, as well as confronting impulse control and self deception.

Listening to music can also help during the detox stage of recovery, it may cut down the amount of pain killers needed and can, again, act as a distraction.

How does it work?
Both drugs and music affect the neurotransmitters in our brains – the chemicals that help our bodies and emotions work. Drugs actually stop the brain from making theses chemicals, which is why you need to keep taking them and why you suffer from withdrawal symptoms. But, listening to music can increase the levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine, which are important. It has also been linked with lowering heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension, which can make detoxing and overcoming an addiction just that little bit easier.

3 – Boost the Immune System
That’s right, music can even help to boost your immune system! There is a wealth of research that has shown music increases recovery in conditions such as heart disease, lung ailments and even the dreaded common cold…

How does it work?
Music can reduce cortisol levels in the brain – which is the stress hormone. So, listening to music can reduce stress which we know can help increase recovery from illness. Most effective for this are jazz and soft rock, which can really help to keep you calm. The trick is to not listen to music that makes you want to run around angrily and kill everyone.

As well as this, music can raise immune markers in your system, which creates more antibodies to fight against disease. What’s not to love? The body will recognise this music over time as immune boosting – but certain types are more effective in this such as classical music.

4 – Preventing Seizures
At this point it’s looking like there isn’t aching music can’t do. But it has been found that music, such as Mozart, can reduce seizure causing activity in the brain, with immediate results in many cases. The main connection that has been found is between our brains and piano music, so that’s definitely a good place to start.

How does it work?
In simple terms, music like Mozart’s just activates something in our brain that can prevent seizures – scientists don’t really have it figured out yet. More research into this field is needed, but we do know that it works. The only explanation I can give is that “the superorganization of the cerebral cortex . . . may resonate with the superior architecture of Mozart’s music”.

5 – Return Lost Memories.
As music can be heavily used in association, it has been looked into as a way of returning memories lost by patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s. I find that music often reminds me of my early teenage years – especially if its something like MCR or Lost Prophets. So this could be the case for people who suffer from memory loss.

How does it work?
Music engages many areas of the brain in both the left and right hemisphere, such as the hippocampus which deals with long term memory. When listening to music, any feelings that can be associated with the song you are listening to can be returned to memory by the hippocampus. It may not be that full memories are recovered, but feelings and attitudes can – and this is massive progress for people who can’t remember who they are from day to day.

6 – An Increase in Spatial Reasoning.
It’s back to piano music for this one. It turns out this kind of music can raise your spatial reasoning by about 9 IQ points, on average. This is a pretty extreme difference – maybe we should all go and listen to some Mozart.

How does it work?
Just like the reduction of seizures, scientists still aren’t sure why piano music has such a strong link to our brains. There are many theories, however, such as at it focuses the listener, or that it increases activity in crucial areas of the brain. But either way, again, it does work.

7 – The Cure For Parkinson’s?
While music isn’t going to get rid of your headache, or stop the pain in your knees when you stand up (that happens, trust me),it has been known to have a dramatic effect of people with Parkinson’s disease. These people suffer from muscle spasms, balance problems and locking muscles randomly and without warning.
The example put forward by cracked.com is Rande Gedaliah. she was diagnosed in 2003, and told that she suffered from muscle spasms, balance problems and difficulty with walking. However, by listening to music she found she could move with ease when any one of these symptoms ‘attacked’. She even used music to determine her walking speed – definitely an amazing way to tackle this huge problem.

How Does it Work?
So, as it happens, your body has an unconscious response to the beat in music that you just can’t control. I’ve often noticed when I’m listening to music that I type along to the beat on my keyboard, or that my foot taps on the floor unprovoked. This is the response your brain has to the beat in music. It is a different kind of movement to just lifting your arms in the air or walking up the stairs. It’s entirely out of our control.

As well as Parkinson’s disease, this effect has helped patients with bradykinesia; an inability to initiate movement. Music can send movement signals to their legs, and trick their bodies into moving. This causes them to be able to move instantly…. Crazy huh?

Even drum circles are being used as a treatment in music therapy groups for patients with these disorders. Playing music also has a great effect on balance and spasms – just like kicking an addiction it’s a great distraction for your brain!

So there we have it. Music is a great form of therapy for a number of different reasons. I definitely live my life by it. Do you?

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Written by: Philippa Berry
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