Music: like drugs for your brain?

Lately, as I have said, I have been enjoying a lot of Swing Music to help me get through the shorter, sometimes gloomy days of winter.  Hence, I have been spending a lot of time with this guy…


For the uninitiated this is Benny Goodman, and he is the “King of Swing!”  😉

This winter I have discovered that the music he and others from his era have produced helps me to feel invigorated.  When I need to get things done, then I set my Pandora service to the “Benny Goodman” station I have created and let it play in the background.   Soon I will  find my toes tapping, and I’m out of my chair getting things done about the house.

I thought perhaps it was my imagination, this feeling I get from listening to Swing Music, but then I found this little video this morning.

I was stunned!  I had no idea that music could so profoundly effect the brain, and further, that it could be addictive!

Not so long ago, I read an article about a man named Henry who had lived in a nursing home for about ten years.  He had become totally unresponsive to the world around him.  However, when a caregiver started playing his favorite music for him he became lucid and began to interact with those around him.   It was amazing to see him perk up, and the effects of the music lasted for some time afterwards!

You may see Henry’s video here, and I highly recommend that you do, because it is so surprising and uplifting!

You may also read more about music stimulation research HERE.

As well, according to Elena Mannes, in her book The Scientific Power of Music: Pioneering Discoveries in the New Science of Song, it seems we all have a proclivity for melody and rhythm.  It also seems that on hearing music we like, our brain wants more!

To paraphrase the above studies:

Just listening to music causes our brain release dopamine, which stimulates our neurons, and thus produces a feeling of well-being, and because our brain likes it when we feel good it therefore makes us want more.  This is what happens when you use cocaine, by the way, though music’s dopamine production is not so intense.  Nevertheless, your brain is set up to take in the sounds of music and reward your neurons with pleasure induced by the natural chemical dopamine.

I will be looking for Elena Mannes book in the library.  I noted in the preview on Amazon, that she has done extensive research on the subject and has an extensive bibliography to show for it.  Her work is in parts quite technical, but I believe it will be an interesting read.

Does music have an effect you?

Disclaimer:  I have no affiliation with,  nor do I receive any monetary benefits from Amazon, Pandora Music, or the author Elena Mannes.   I just happen to enjoy and appreciate them!

NOTE:  The Daily Post posed the topic “Musical” on 1/26/13 and I had recently written this on the 21st.  I hope this is not cheating to link it to the topic!  If it is, then I am sure someone in the crowd will soundly tell me off!  😉