How music heals your mind, body

mural for music of the mind

Think of your favorite song, the one you could play on repeat for an hour.

Got it? Now think about what would happen next if that song were playing right now.

Your body responds immediately, and your emotions are heightened. Peace, excitement or regret? It all depends on your choice.

That’s because the music has triggered an increase of blood flow to the region of your brain that controls your feelings.

Music is powerful, and its benefits – both psychological and physical – are numerous. A growing body of research shows that music can have a positive impact on your health.

Roper St. Francis Healthcare is proud to sponsor the Roper St. Francis Concert Series at Credit One Stadium. As part of this sponsorship, Roper St. Francis Healthcare launched Music for the Mind, an initiative that celebrates the power of music and its positive impact on mental health.

Music and Mind

For starters, music “causes the release of brain chemicals (neurotransmitters and hormones) that can evoke emotional reactions, memories, and feelings and promote social bonds,” according to the National Institutes of Health.

That’s why we can feel wistful when listening to a beloved song from high school or sentimental when dancing to our special song with our partner.

When we hear certain songs, our bodies release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that allows us to feel pleasure.

In addition to being a mood booster, music can enhance our memory. One study on 60 post-stroke patients showed that music enhanced cognitive recovery – specifically it boosted their verbal memory and focused attention – and prevented negative moods. The control group also was more depressed and confused than the group treated with music.

Other research trials show surgical patients who listened to music before, during or immediately after their procedures had lower blood pressure than those who didn’t.

Music and Body

Research is more limited on the conclusive effects of music on specific health conditions, but an increasing amount of evidence shows that it may be helpful.

For example, preliminary research has shown music to be helpful for anxiety, depressive symptoms and pain as well as other symptoms associated with dementia, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.

It’s not clear why music lessens pain perception; perhaps it’s because music distracts us or because it triggers the release of dopamine, which could decrease our pain perception.

Or, perhaps, the physical benefits of music are tied to the vibrations produced by its sound waves. Vibroacoustic therapy uses sound and its resulting vibrations to target specific areas of the body. A review of seven scientific studies showed this type of therapy potentially could improve motor function in children and adults with cerebral palsy.

Research does not indicate any negative effects from music, although it can contribute to noise-induced hearing loss when listened to at a high volume.