Why is music good for the brain? – Harvard

Can music really affect your well-being, learning, cognitive function, quality of life, and even happiness, asks Harvard Health Publishing in a recent blog post. I have to confess that as a daily bike rider who plays music on a blue tooth speaker while riding, I was very happy to learn this.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

A recent survey on music and brain health conducted by AARP revealed some interesting findings about the impact of music on cognitive and emotional well-being:

  • Music listeners had higher scores for mental well-being and slightly reduced levels of anxiety and depression compared to people overall.
  • Of survey respondents who currently go to musical performances, 69% rated their brain health as “excellent” or “very good,” compared to 58% for those who went in the past and 52% for those who never attended.
  • Of those who reported often being exposed to music as a child, 68% rated their ability to learn new things as “excellent” or “very good,” compared to 50% of those who were not exposed to music.
  • Active musical engagement, including those over age 50, was associated with higher rates of happiness and good cognitive function.
  • Adults with no early music exposure but who currently engage in some music appreciation show above average mental well-being scores.

Let’s take a closer look at this study


Filed under aging brain, brain

3 responses to “Why is music good for the brain? – Harvard

  1. The most significant improvement in my quality of life following my TBI was with a music based therapy called Listening Therapy based on the Tomatis (Alfred Tomatis) method which is built on the Poly Vagal Theory (Dr. Stephen Porges). The Listening Therapy is designed to calm the Vagal nerve by addressing the muscle tone of the Strapedious muscle by exposing the person to music that has been modified to limit the frequency range. As the Therapy progresses the frequency range is adjusted. The intent is to strengthen the strapedius muscle so the brain receives signals at the correct pitch. If the pitch is too high or too low the brain receives the input as a danger signal (think the growl of a bear or the screech of a hawk) putting the autonomic system into fight or flight mode. Each time this happens the person goes through an adrenalin rush. When this happens too often in an hour or day (for me it was in reaction to most sounds) the person will experience ongoing fatigue due to the adrenal gland being drained. Even supplements couldn’t keep up with the draining. The brain was not recognizing pro-social sounds for what they were intended.
    My blog post at WordPress titled Tiniest Muscle with Real Pull explains in more detail how this therapy has helped my recovery.
    Music is powerful and can be harnessed in a variety of ways.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow. Interesting info, Jasper. Thanks for sharing. I got into music therapy in the 80’s when I was living in London and heard about it there. I found a music therapist and spent time with him. Very enlightening, especially so since I am a music lover from birth.


      • The broad field of brain study is still in its infancy. I marveled at how the theory for my therapy was explained to me. In the initial consultation I filled in my back story on how I reacted or dealt with my diverse array of challenges over a 5 year period. As therapist explained the theoretical part, I shared my body’s way of coping. We both came away from the consultation feeling we had learned a book’s worth of knowledge.
        I find it amazing how people like Porges and Tomatis were able to piece this together into a successful therapy. Had this major transformation happened within a year or so of my TBI rather than 5 years later I would have thought I had just imagined the TBI challenges I had been living with. Every once in awhile I remind myself that what I now once again take for granted is actually a truly amazing recovery

        Liked by 1 person

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