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Do You Listen to Music While Working? Here's What It Does to Your Brain

“Without music, life would be a mistake”

Music Brain


You’re probably listening to music in your headphones at work right now. Whether you are powering through your to-do list or brainstorming creative ideas, here is how the tunes you are playing affect how your brain works.

The brain’s ability to absorb and make sense of music — what some scientists refer to as organized sound — is highly complex and far more effective than even a computer’s capacity to identify and process it. But questions about how exactly the brain takes in organized sound still remain: Why does it make us feel the way we do?

Everyone likes different types of music: Some people may feel more uplifted when they listen to classical music, while others don’t get the same high when listening to Bach or Beethoven. However, research has shown that despite personal preferences, music, in general, has a synchronized effect on people’s brains.

1. HAPPY/SAD MUSIC AFFECTS HOW WE SEE NEUTRAL FACES:
We can usually pick if a piece of music is particularly happy or sad, but this isn’t just a subjective idea that comes from how it makes us feel. In fact, our brains actually respond differently to happy and sad music.

2. AMBIENT NOISE CAN IMPROVE CREATIVITY
We all like to pump up the tunes when we’re powering through our to-do lists, right? But when it comes to creative work, loud music may not be the best option.
The way this works is that moderate noise levels increase processing difficulty which promotes abstract processing, leading to higher creativity.

3. OUR MUSIC CHOICES CAN PREDICT OUR PERSONALITY

  • Blues fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing, gentle and at ease
  • Jazz fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing and at ease
  • Classical music fans have high self-esteem, are creative, introvert and at ease
  • Rap fans have high self-esteem and are outgoing
  • Opera fans have high self-esteem, are creative and gentle
  • Country and western fans are hardworking and outgoing
  • Reggae fans have high self-esteem, are creative, not hardworking, outgoing, gentle and at ease
  • Dance fans are creative and outgoing but not gentle
  • Indie fans have low self-esteem, are creative, not hard working, and not gentle
  • Bollywood fans are creative and outgoing
  • Rock/heavy metal fans have low self-esteem, are creative, not hard-working, not outgoing, gentle, and at ease
  • Chart pop fans have high self-esteem, are hardworking, outgoing and gentle, but are not creative and not at ease
  • Soul fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing, gentle, and at ease


4. MUSIC CAN SIGNIFICANTLY DISTRACT US WHILE DRIVING (CONTRARY TO COMMON BELIEF)
Another study was done on teenagers and young adults focused on how their driving is affected by music.
Drivers were tested while listening to their own choice of music, silence or “safe” music choices provided by the researchers. Of course, their own music was preferred, but it also proved to be more distracting: drivers made more mistakes and drove more aggressively when listening to their own choice of music.
Even more surprising: music provided by the researchers proved to be more beneficial than no music at all. It seems that unfamiliar, or uninteresting, music is best for safe driving.

5. MUSIC TRAINING CAN SIGNIFICANTLY IMPROVE OUR MOTOR AND REASONING SKILLS
We generally assume that learning a musical instrument can be beneficial for kids, but it’s actually useful in more ways than we might expect. One study showed that children who had three years or more musical instrument training performed better than those who didn’t learn an instrument in auditory discrimination abilities and fine motor skills.

6. CLASSICAL MUSIC CAN IMPROVE VISUAL ATTENTION
It’s not just kids that can benefit from musical training or exposure. Stroke patients in one small study showed improved visual attention while listening to classical music.

7. ONE-SIDED PHONE CALLS ARE MORE DISTRACTING THAN NORMAL CONVERSATIONS
Another study focused on noise, rather than music, showed that when it comes to being distracted by the conversations of others, phone calls where we can only hear one side of the conversation are the worst offenders.

8. MUSIC HELPS US EXERCISE
Back to music again, and we can see that just like silence doesn’t help us to be more creative or better drivers, it’s not much use when we’re exercising, either.
Not only can we push through the pain to exercise longer and harder when we listen to music, but it can actually help us to use our energy more efficiently. A 2012 study showed that cyclists who listened to music required 7% less oxygen to do the same work as those who cycled in silence.
So in the same way that exercising makes us happier, it’s not surprising that music adds significantly to our workout success.



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