Music’s Effect on the Brain

Music is an extremely powerful tool; it can bring thousands of different people together in the same moment. But what kind of effects does music have on the brain?

Reduces Stress and Anxiety

Research has shown that certain kinds of music may actually reduce stress and anxiety. Music with a low tempo, low pitch, and no lyrics or loud instrumentals can in fact calm people down during extremely stressful situations. Music can prevent anxiety-induced increases in the heart rate, as well as all other biological markers of stress.

Decreases Pain

Music is very helpful when it comes to pain management. A study was undertaken in 2013, sixty people who were all diagnosed with fibromyalgia (causes severe musculoskeletal pain.) Participants were randomly assigned to listen to music once a day over a 4-week period. At the end of the experiment the group that listened to music experienced less pain and fewer depressive symptoms.

May Improve Immune Functioning

Some researchers seem to think that music can help prevent illness and disease. Research has shown that peoples IgA levels (an important antibody, and first line of immune defence against illness) increased. Out of all the different types of music they are listened to, soothing music saw greater increase in IgA than any other. This has suggested that exposure to music (and not other sounds) might improve innate immunity.

Music May Aid Memory

Music could actually help with memory, in everyone from students studying for exams, to people suffering from dementia. Feeling enjoyment when listening to music is caused by the release of dopamine into the brain. Dopamine release has been tied to motivation, which in turn is related to learning and memory.

Helps Us Exercise

An experiment was held, where participants were split into three groups and asked to walk on a treadmill until exhaustion. One group was listening to motivational music, one group was listening to non-motivational music, and one group was listening to no music. The two groups that were listening to music lasted longer on the treadmill than those without. With those listening to motivational music lasting significantly longer. Those who listened to motivational music also said that they felt better working out compared to the other two.

Music Helps You Learn

When there are cuts in public schools, the arts are the first to go. In some schools the music programs get cut altogether. But it’s been shown that music can actually improve learning. If music is taught in or out of school, it can help students excel in the following:

  • Improved language development
  • Small increase in IQ
  • Improved test scores
  • Increased brain connectivity
  • Increased spatial intelligence


With so many benefits, you can see why things like music therapy is becoming so popular.