Anyone who has ever felt shivers in the epidermis when listening to their favorite music, fainted with a love song or was completely upset because [of] heavy metal knows that music can exert a powerful emotional effect.
And no one needs a neuroscientist to explain that manipulating the rhythms, tonalities and intensities of a melody can trigger strong emotions.
In fact, composers of symphonies, rock / pop music, soundtracks and TV ads all know how to tune into the mood of their audience through musical notes and cadences that can alternate between expressions of disparate feelings: from sadness to depression, to feelings of euphoria, joy and joviality.
But neuroscientists may have something to say about how music causes emotional effects in the depths of the human brain. And understanding the ‘how’ can immediately provide an important clue as to the ‘why’ in which the power of music lies in the lives of human beings. And now we understand why we feel such pleasure in listening to music .
How Science Explain This ?
While the lyrics of a song activate language centers (such as Broca’s Area ), other parts of the brain perform a temporal association - referring our thoughts (and feelings) to a first kiss or a remarkable journey made to the sound of a certain song .
“It’s as if the brain catches fire when we’re listening to music, ” Psychology Today Report , a neuroscientist at the Harvard University, in an interview with Science News.
“In terms of imaging we have captured from the brain, studies have shown that listening to music activates multiple parts simultaneously, which corresponds to far more parts than any other stimulus produces in humans.”
The fact that music activates so many brain systems at once is why it makes it so sweeping and pleasurable. Music exerts its deepest effect on the emotional nucleus of the brain, the limbic system.
The most amazing thing is that music automatically activates areas of the brain that are essential to feelings of pleasure and reward. So much so that the same pleasure centers of the brain that become active when we listen to our favorite tunes are exactly the same as those that are linked when humans eat chocolate or have … sex!
Combining Science And Music.
This partnership between music and science can be extremely valuable in the future.
The dramatic effects of music revealed are also a valuable tool for science to understand the emotional circuits of the brain. For this reason, Van Wedeen and other neuroscientists use music as a tool to see how the brain processes a wide range of feelings such as sadness, joy, desire, and admiration.
Some of these emotions, so easily felt in response to rhythms and melodies, are otherwise difficult to evoke in an experimental laboratory study.
Other researchers are using music to explore how autistic children process emotions.
Usually, autistic children have a hard time recognizing how others feel. But when they hear a song, they can quickly identify the associated feelings.
This search for understanding is an infinite work and may never end. But using music to study and stimulate emotional brain circuits can lead to new therapies for the treatment of a wide range of emotional disorders, including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to scientists.
By understanding how music activates and coordinates the various emotional mechanisms in the brain, experts can find ways to reprogram a brain affected by disease or injury, or provide a workaround for damaged or under performing brain regions.
Despite the long list of potential benefits to health and happiness , Van Wedeen argues that the deep and complex experience that music provides is primarily a social experience, rather than an individual phenomenon.
Many years before people had small wires in their ears to listen to music anytime, anywhere, there were sounds and musical rhythms played on flutes and reeds, instruments that were probably used in tribal rituals to unite hunters and warriors before a battle.
Today, music helps to bring people together in weddings, funerals, and countless social events. And it continues to illuminate our lives in a subliminal way.