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How Music Affects your Brain

We all know, I guess, that music is awesome. And it helps us get through hard times. It helps us feel happy when we want to feel happy and helps us through our worst breakups. It helps us in all different ways. But why? Why has it such a fascinating effect on our brains. A few weeks ago, I listened to some (hardcore) music. And I felt one with everything in life. But the day after, I felt very down. Even the music I listened changed with it. It influences us in our daily lives. Therefore, I think is one of the finest arts in this world, well after writing of course. So, let’s dig into the research I've done on this topic!

Increase in Dopamine Levels

A group of researchers in Canada showed in a study that there is, in fact, a relation between dopamine and music. This is one of the first studies that showed that an abstract reward gives a dopamine boost (dopamine: A.K.A, a “feel good” neurochemical that is involved when experiencing pleasure). The study had 217 participants, but they narrowed it down to eight people who responded the same way in different environments. They let those people listen to music while in a scan. Which uses PET (positron emission tomography) technique. The PET scan showed that dopamine was released during peak moments of emotional arousal when listing to music.

Uplifting Music Makes you More Helpful 

Another study showed that uplifting music makes people want to help out others more. The test was done on 646 users (366 men and 280 women) of two gyms at a university in the U.K. The people had to enter their usual gym with annoying music or uplifting music. At the end of their gym session they were asked to fill in a petition. The people who had uplifting music on all signed. But the ones who had annoying music on didn’t. Therefore, people who had listened to uplifting music were more kind.

Music Makes you More Happy and Productive, at the Office

Most of us already know this but when listening to music we are more productive. A study that showed this was done on 56 developers (41 men and 15 women) who worked at four different software companies. Results indicated that the quality-of-work was the lowest with no music. Also, the time spend on a task was longer. The people who listened to music were in a way more positive mood during the work they did. So, put your music on! And increase your mood and productivity :)

Children with Music Education Have a Slightly Increased IQ

E. Glenn Schellenberg at the University of Toronto did a study on six-year-olds who were given weekly voice and piano lessons. They were tested on IQ in the first grade and again entering the second grade. And compared them with the control group. Shockingly, the kids who were given music lessons scored on average three IQ points higher than the other groups. Besides this research, children who were taught music lessons (in or outside school) have also the following listed benefits:

  • improved language development
  • improved test scores
  • increased brain connectivity
  • increased spatial intelligence

See this source for more information on the researches on those benefits.

Music Helps Us Exercise Better

In 1911 an American researcher, Leonard Ayres, found that cyclists pedaled faster while listening to music. This happens because the music stays in a constant beat. While our brain is pushing us to stop, the music keeps going. As a result, you go too. Besides that, we can also use our energy efficiently when listening to music. A study done by Scientific American showed that we use 7% less oxygen when we listen to music while cycling. The reason they use cycling as main sport is because it is comparable to all cardio sports such as, running,swimming and rowing.


All the ways music affects the brain wrote about in this blog post:

  • increase in dopamine levels
  • makes you more helpful
  • increase in productivity
  • increase in happiness
  • increase in IQ by kids with music lessons
  • helps us exercise better

That was it! Thank you for reading. If you are new subscribe above. And I will see you later :)

Ingmar Heikens

Sources I used:


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