Classical music affects the brain’s organization and abilities, through its melody and rhythm. The rhythm raises the level of serotonin produced in your brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, involved in the transmission of nerve impulses that helps maintaining joyous feelings. When the brain produces serotonin, tension is eased. In fact depression is a consequence of the scarce production of this hormone. Serotonin is released when the brain is “positively shocked”. For instance: if we look at a splendid painting, smell a delicious scent, feel an extraordinary sensation, eat something delicious or listen to some charming music, then the brain lets off a certain amount of serotonin which arouses and maximizes pleasant feelings. Music’s rhythm can also stimulate other natural cadencies of the body, resembling the heartbeat, or the Alfa-rhythm of the brain, and this effect is used to counter the development of clinical depression. The melody instead, is the “sparkle” that catalyses the creative process in our minds.
The known effects of music on the brain are varied: music affects from humans’ and animals’ brains to plants’ development. In humans, music enhances spatial IQ, by increasing the short and long – term memory. In fact, musical trained musicians perform better on word memory tests than other adults. Children benefit from classical music’s virtues even more than adults; they experience advantages in cognitive skills. Animals and plants as well have proven a certain predisposition towards classical music. Just listening to this musical style enhances the brain’s ability; playing it, results even in a major brain development.
We can describe the effect of classical music on the brain being composed of two effects that act in synergy. The first is due to rhythm, that synchronizes with the body’s vital rhythms, already mentioned, and produces the proper mood for increased cognitive and creative capabilities. The second effect that acts in synergy with the first is melody, that gets along with thoughts resolutions and gives to the person the warm feeling that he or she is able to tackle new challenges, by setting a path in the invention of new solutions and providing the ability to make the correct choice among possible solutions. Melody and rhythm, together, act in synergy with the brain; it “opens” the auditory and sensorial channels that conduct to the brain, thus benefiting your cerebral skills.
It is the beat that establishes the crucial effect of music on our body, together with the enhancement of cognitive and creative functions of the brain, supported from the right melody. For instance, when an autistic boy is asked to tie his shoes, this task results very difficult and perhaps impossible. But when he is asked to do it with classical music in the background, he is successful in achieving his task. According to the Mozart Effect, children who take music lessons will experience advantages in cognitive skills.
Effects of music have been proven on animals and plants as well. The right balance of rhythm and melody help hens lay more eggs, cats to relax, and cows to produce more milk. An experiment on laboratory rats revealed that mammals have a natural predisposition towards music. The experiment consisted in placing two boxes, connected by a tube, playing Bach’s Air on the G string in one box, and rock music in the other. Most rats chose to go in the box with Bach’s music, even when the music switched from a box to another. Later, the rats were placed in a maze, and the ones which chose Bach’s music, found the exit before, and more easily than the ones which were exposed to rock music. When scientists then observed the rats’ brains, they could see that the ones being frequently exposed to classical music, had a physically more developed brain than the ones who were not being exposed to the particular music. Experiments on plants proved that plants growing with the 60 beats per minute pattern, grew faster and more efficiently than the ones growing with rock music in the background; the ones being exposed to rock music withered and died. Plants are living but not thinking organisms, therefore what matters for their development is not the melody, but the rhythm of the music.
Source: Silvia Francesca Maglione