The Mind, Music, and Behavior

Topics: Psychology, Mind, Brain Pages: 7 (2061 words) Published: October 8, 1999
The Mind, Music, and Behavior


The main purpose of the paper is to investigate and present the relationship between the mind, music, and human behavior. For this purpose, research is presented on previous works and studies that link music with the mind. Based on this research, music increases neurotransmitter levels. Soft or mellow music has a tendency to promote tranquillity, while music with tempo sometimes distracts. Human memories can be cued by music, and music can promote improved learning.

The brain is a two and a quarter pound piece of living organic tissue that controls the human nervous system. Music is a collection of sound waves that propagate through the air, and has varying frequencies and tones following a discernible order. Yet we all recognize the significance of the brain beyond its physical function. Our minds are the essence of what we are. The brain enigmatically stores memories, and lets people experience such things as emotion, sensations, and thoughts. In the same sense, music is more than just a collection of vibrations. This leads to the question of how does music affect the mind, and in addition, how does music affect human behavior? The reader might ask why such a question should be relevant. If more is known about the psychological and neurophysiological effects of music on the human mind, then the possibilities of this knowledge are unbounded. Music can be used to treat social and behavioral problems in people with disabilities. The use of music in the classroom might enhance or weaken a student's work characteristics. Therefore, whether the influence of music is positive or negative, much needs to be explored about the link between the mind and music.

Physiologically, the brain receives information about sound waves from the ear through the auditory nerve. This information is then processed by the brain and analyzed for the juxtaposition of melody and rhythm. The mixture of melody and rhythm is what we commonly refer to as music. However, our minds interpret this auditory information as more than just sound signals; somehow, we are able to differentiate between certain types of music, and develop preferences for these different types. Yet, what are the ways in which the effects of music manifest themselves?

First, there are particular biochemical responses in the human body to music. Research shows that college students, when listening to music, have more galvanic skin response peaks, as opposed to when they were not listening to music. This research also indicates a significant decrease of norepinephrine levels in students while they listen to "preferred" music. Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter that arbitrates chemical communication in the sympathetic nervous system of the human body. The release of this neurotransmitter, as a consequence of a function of the brain, results in an increased heart rate and heightened blood pressure. Therefore, the decrease of norepinephrine in these college students results in a more "relaxed" state. This could suggest that favored or pleasant music somehow affects the mind, resulting in the relaxing of the body. Another research project, undertaken at the Tokyo Institute of Psychiatry, focuses on the effects of music on the mind using electroencephalograms (EEG). An electroencephalograph is a medical instrument that is capable of showing the electrical activity of the brain by measuring electrical potentials on the scalp. In this experiment, volunteers were exposed to silence, music, white noise (simulated hiss), and then silence. The result of this experiment coincides with the previous findings. The volunteers all reported feeling a calming sensation. However, the researches did not attribute the lowered tension to reduced neurotransmitter levels. While listening to music, "many of the subjects reported that they felt pleasantly relaxed or comfortable… Music may evoke more organized mental activities which result in subjectively...

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