Does music influence people's actions

Music and emotions: what sounds trigger in us

Music creates goosebumps, puts us in high spirits and brings tears to our eyes. Electro beats drive us, a roaring orchestra provides pleasant shudders, a deep singing voice has a calming effect. It's amazing how much sounds influence us and direct our emotional world. But what exactly is going on in our head? How powerful is the power of tones? The interplay between music and emotion is absolutely fascinating.

Music and feelings: what happens in the head while listening

Tones penetrate far into the depths of the human soul and evoke many different moods. All over the world, certain music creates feelings of joy, sadness and threat. It is not for nothing Music as a universal language. She gets by without words and everyone understands her straight away. Neuroscientists explain this with the fact that some sounds first address the so-called brain stem, even before consciousness turns on. This region of the brain was already possessed by primitive humans. The brain stem controls such important functions as reflexes and blood pressure.

We associate loud sounds such as screaming, surprising bangs or a dissonant howling melody with something threatening. They increase the heartbeat even before we even consciously think about it. For our ancestors, who were exposed to unprotected predators as hunters and gatherers, a quick reaction was vital.

But other areas of the brain are also activated by sounds, especially those that are responsible for feelings such as longing or sadness. In addition to the direct influence on our autonomic nervous system, music primarily affects the memories stored in our memory. Which music touches us and how is therefore learned and is based on our very individual experiences. Someone who, as a child, had the music from the car radio in his ear on the long trips on family vacation to Italy, even decades later associates what he has heard with winding mountain passes, with a view of the imposing Tyrolean Alps, lush flower meadows, blue-green shimmering olive trees, fragrant cypresses and creamy gelato.

Psychologists and neuroscientists speak of the episodic memory. You connect the music with episodes from your own life. The brain links what has been heard back to the situation in which we first heard a piece of music. We don't just recognize the melody or the chorus text. Since all brain regions are active when listening to music, we experience the situation at that time, its specific atmosphere as well as our mood at that time with all of our senses.

Which music we like and stimulate us emotionally also depends on the sociocultural environment, the musical tastes of older siblings, parents and friends. Depending on the situation, the massive Verdi opera, the "Azzurro" song or the Italo-Pop-Schmachtfippen rave about. An opera singer or a pop star singing about a love that has passed touch us, even if we are still strangers to lovesickness as a child. Even babies several months old do not begin to cry when their mothers sing a sad pop song. The reason for this are those responsible for our ability to empathize Mirror neurons. We perceive the musician's emotions through the plaintive singing of the musician. Our inner life resonates through the nerve cells and we feel the same sadness.

The rousing summer hit from childhood, on the other hand, lifts the mood, as it stimulates the reward system in the brain, whereupon it releases happiness hormones, endorphins. For all of these reasons, we have our favorite songs and use music as a mood maker. If we are depressed, on the other hand, we prefer to use elegiac symphonies or love songs. This music is more comfortable for us with these emotions. This has a positive effect on our psyche because we share the mood with the languishing singer and this agrees with our soul life. That gives consolation.

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Amazing facts about the effects of music

Music is puzzling. By far not all questions about the relationship between music and feelings have been answered so far. Therefore, it is currently a very popular research area that occupies psychologists, ethnologists, social scientists, physicians and neurologists. New studies are emerging every day, laboratory experiments, brain scans and long-term observations are carried out to uncover the secret of the sounds. The findings show how complex the connection between music and feelings is. Perhaps some of the most amazing facts in this research include the following:

  • The suggestive effect of musicstudied the French psychologist Nicolas Guéguen. He found out how much certain music influences our behavior. When we hear a French chanson in the supermarket, we tend to grab wine instead of beer in the drinks department. If our favorite song is playing in a bar, it encourages us to speak to the crush at the bar. Loud music also tempts us to order more drinks and drink faster.
  • At the to jog or that Fitness workoutMusic drives us through stimulating emotions. We last longer, among other things because sport with music in the ear is perceived as less stressful. Songs with 120 to 140 beats per minute are beneficial. If the athletes move with the rhythm, they even increase their performance. This was found out by the music psychologist Gunter Kreutz, who is doing research at the Oldenburg University.
  • More and more medical professionals are discovering the potential of Music for patients with dementia, tinnitus, depression and chronic pain. People with dementia who do not even remember their age can amazingly recognize songs from their youth. In the context of pain therapy or psychotherapy, the effects of music can also be used - stress hormones, pain perception and feelings of fear can be reduced in this way. Patients exposed to music during and after an operation need less anesthetic and feel less pain after the operation.
  • Musical pieces are sometimes like that exciting as a thriller built up. Film musicians in particular make use of the entire range of tension arcs, action sequences, cliff hangers and other narrative media. When listening, the brain assumes an expectation. An unexpected rapid change of rhythm or rising beat, dissonant violin squeaks and other shrill sounds cause us fear and discomfort. An example of this is the soundtrack of the Hitchcock classic Psycho, the famous shower scene in particular gives you goose bumps just because of its sound.

  • A neonatal unit found that premature babies can relax with songs being sung. Don't weigh in vain Lullabies For many centuries, small children all over the world have fallen asleep. The course of their tone sequences is also similar everywhere, regardless of whether it is an Indonesian or an Irish folk tune.
  • Music enriches our emotional life. It makes strings ring in us that we normally don't feel in everyday life. For example, anyone who is not otherwise religious or who practices meditation experiences spiritual and transcendent feelings with the help of music. That is what scientists from the research cluster said Languages ​​of Emotions of the Free University of Berlin.

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Cover picture: © Priscilla Du Preez. Source: Unsplash
Image 1: © Luis Galvez. Source: Unsplash