Music: The Universal Happy Pill


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It had been a long, rough day.  As the boy entered his room he shrugged off his backpack and lobbed it to his desk; he would do his homework later.  After fetching a drink from the kitchen the boy returns to his room, places his drink on the desk, and heads over to his CD collection.  After he makes his choice he pops the CD into his stereo system, lays on his bed, closes his eyes, and listens.  His music calms his mind and body while he lays there, listening.  After a few songs the boy feels better.  Leaving his day at school behind him he sits up and heads to his desk to start homework.  With the music still playing the chore goes almost unnoticed and it seems the homework is done just as it began.  The boy sits back in his chair and again gives his full attention to the music.  He feels his mood lighten as a passage in the music gives him goosebumps and suddenly a question pops into his mind; why does the music make me feel better?

Music affects the human brain in many interesting ways.  The most interesting way, in my opinion, is how it affects mood.  Music has saved my life (more than once) and it has helped me slave through many nights of homework, projects, etc. I am almost constantly listening to music through the magic of technology and if I could listen to music in class (without it causing an issue with the professor) I surely would.  Currently, I am listening to Mozart.  The reason I listen to music so much is simply because music makes me happy.  It seems that the reasons why this happens are universal.

The simplest explanation is that listening to music releases dopamine, a chemical in the brain that, when released, makes one "feel good" (science term).  Dopamine is linked to motivation and addiction, and is released during other activities like sex or drug use.  In a study done at Penn State, Altoona it was found that ones positive mood will improve regardless of what type of music is listened to.  Although this study did not show a decrease in many negative mood aspects, it shows a large correlation between music and mood.  In another study, new-age music was played to mice to study the effects on their brains.  After 21 days of listening for 6 hours a day, the music exposure showed increased brain-derived neurotrophic factor (link leads to full explanation of BDNF), effectively protecting the neurons from stress and BDNF (decreases the overactive stress system in stress related disorders such as major depression."  The study also showed a decrease in the nerve growth factor (link leads to full explanation of NGF) which is thought to contribute to a decrease in the stress system of the body.  Again, this result shows a positive correlation of music affecting mood.  Other studies suggest that music can even reduce pain and improve IQ, productivity and physical activity!  Music truly is a wonderful thing, do you not agree?
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it decreases the overactive stress system in stress related disorders such as major depression - See more at: http://www.shockmd.com/2008/03/06/how-does-music-improve-mood-state/#sthash.qDPZ8Glw.dpuf
it decreases the overactive stress system in stress related disorders such as major depression - See more at: http://www.shockmd.com/2008/03/06/how-does-music-improve-mood-state/#sthash.qDPZ8Glw.dpuf
it decreases the overactive stress system in stress related disorders such as major depression - See more at: http://www.shockmd.com/2008/03/06/how-does-music-improve-mood-state/#sthash.qDPZ8Glw.dpuf


1 Comment

That is so interesting and really good to know considering I love to listen to music. I had no idea that no matter what type of music it was, positive mood will increase. You're links were very helpful to elaborate, considering I had no idea music could also be used as a therapy. The link to dopamine in the brain and other functions was completely unknown to me, but maybe I'll listen to music on a more regular basis now, especially due to the fact I haven't been listening to too much since being here. I also found this very interesting link showing that impact of music on memory due to the parts of the brain stimulated. A study done including these factors can be found in this link: http://clearinghouse.missouriwestern.edu/manuscripts/230.php


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