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There’s magic in music. It taps into our emotions and inspires our imaginations like nothing else. But music does more than simply make us feel good – when you listen to music you’re exercising your mental muscle in a completely unique way. There’s mounting evidence that shows exposure to music rewires our brains and builds new connections that enable us to think in ways we never could before.
This is just one of the extraordinary effects music has on our brains. Here are some others discussed at a recent symposium on the subject hosted by the Association of Psychological Science in Chicago:
- Music sticks: Ever wonder why a song gets stuck in your head? It’s all thanks to a clever evolutionary adaptation that helped our ancestors survive. Before written language, humans used songs to help remember important information like directions or how to prepare food. This technique is still handy today – teachers use it every day to help kids remember long lists of facts.
- Music is like a drug: Listening to music gives us a rush of pleasure. Music taps into our brains pleasure centre, releasing a rush of dopamine into our system. Unfortunately you can’t simply switch addicts from drugs to music – while both tap into the same pleasure centre, they use different routes and stimuli to get there.
- Music taps into emotions: Not only can we identify emotions in a song without lyrics, but what we listen to affects how we’re feeling. The experts are saying to use this to your advantage – listen to energetic, positive songs in the morning to set you up for a great day, and sooth tracks after an argument – putting on sad or angry music will only make you feel worse!