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The Songs You Listen To Can Change The Way You See The World, A Study Finds

The Songs You Listen To Can Change The Way You See The World, A Study Finds

Have you ever wondered why music can affect your mood? A mournful tune can move us to tears moments after we were happy and not sad at all, or an upbeat tune can pop the gloomy balloon around us and make us feel more cheerful than before. Well, perception is nine tenths of reality and, when it comes to our emotions, the songs we listen to can actually prove to alter our perception of emotions.

Research Shows That Music Changes Perception

A study conducted at the University of Groningen in Netherlands indicates that music cannot only affect your mood and present state of mind, but the songs you listen to can also change the way you perceive emotions and the world around you.[1]

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Researcher Jacob Jolij and student Maaike Meurs, from the psychology department, did a study that showed that when people are listening to happy tunes, not only do they feel happier, but they also see happier faces around them, in general. And the opposite is also true – if the songs you listen to are making you gloomy, you are more likely to perceive sadder faces around you too!

The Science Behind The Study

43 young adults were asked to look at computer screens and go through a visual stimuli perception test. Faint happy or sad faces were shown in picture format over a noisy, gray background, one at a time.[2] Each subject had to listen to 15 minutes of music they considered sad, and 15 minutes of music they considered to be happy. While they were identifying the happy or sad faces, they listened to music, both happy and sad.

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Researchers found that when the test subjects were listening to happy songs, they not only spotted the happier faces with ease, but sometimes also spotted happy faces even when there were none. And when the test subjects listened to sad music, they spotted the sad faces much faster and, yet again, saw sad faces even if they weren’t any on that picture.

Many false positives were spotted this way, which proved that we tend to see the world as per the emotional state we are in. If we are happy, we view the world with rose-tinted glasses, and if we are sad, the glasses turn blue too.

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The Songs You Listen To

The study concluded that what you saw was in line with your mood, which, in turn, was affected by the songs you listen to. People who listened to happy tunes were in a happier frame of mind and tended to spot happiness around them too while people who listened to the blues were likely to be in a gloomy mood, and tended to spot the sadness around them faster.

And yet, it’s been discovered that there are times when we crave sad music and listening to those tearjerker songs hurts.[3] Apparently, songs that pull at our heart strings when we’re sad contain a musical device called appoggiatura, which is an ornamental note that clashes with the melody to create discord.[4] This discord creates tension in the listener and, when this discord is resolves in further passages, the tension dissolves and the listener feels better.

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The Takeaway From Music

So, the next time you choose a playlist, choose one carefully, because your playlist can make you feel on top of the world, or like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. When in doubt, choose happy songs when it comes to the songs you gravitate to![5]

Reference

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Rima Pundir

Health, Wellness & Productivity Writer

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Last Updated on June 6, 2019

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

In 2011, the Finnish Tourist Board ran a campaign that used silence as a marketing ‘product’. They sought to entice people to visit Finland and experience the beauty of this silent land. They released a series of photographs of single figures in the nature and used the slogan “Silence, Please”. A tag line was added by Simon Anholt, an international country branding consultant, “No talking, but action.”

Eva Kiviranta the manager of the social media for VisitFinland.com said: “We decided, instead of saying that it’s really empty and really quiet and nobody is talking about anything here, let’s embrace it and make it a good thing”.

Finland may be on to something very big. You could be seeing the very beginnings of using silence as a selling point as silence may be becoming more and more attractive. As the world around becomes increasingly loud and cluttered you may find yourself seeking out the reprieve that silent places and silence have to offer. This may be a wise move as studies are showing that silence is much more important to your brains than you might think.

Regenerated brain cells may be just a matter of silence.

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     A 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice.[1] The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.

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    The growth of new cells in the brain does not necessarily translate to tangible health benefits. However, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons.

    “We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system.”

    In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain.

    The brain is actively internalizing and evaluating information during silence

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      A 2001 study defined a “default mode” of brain function that showed that even when the brain was “resting” it was perpetually active internalizing and evaluating information.

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      Follow-up research found that the default mode is also used during the process of self-reflection. In 2013, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Joseph Moran et al. wrote, the brain’s default mode network “is observed most closely during the psychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.

      “When the brain rests it is able to integrate internal and external information into “a conscious workspace,” said Moran and colleagues.

      When you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world.

      The default mode helps you think about profound things in an imaginative way.

      As Herman Melville once wrote,[2]

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      “All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.”

      Silence relieves stress and tension.

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        It has been found that noise can have a pronounced physical effect on our brains resulting in elevated levels of stress hormones. The sound waves reach the brain as electrical signals via the ear. The body reacts to these signals even if it is sleeping. It is thought that the amygdalae (located in the temporal lobes of the brain) which is associated with memory formation and emotion is activated and this causes a release of stress hormones. If you live in a consistently noisy environment that you are likely to experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.

        A study that was published in 2002 in Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9) examined the effects that the relocation of Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University notes that children who are exposed to noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore the noise. What is of interest is that these children not only ignored harmful stimuli they also ignored stimuli that they should be paying attention to such as speech. 

        “This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise – even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage – causes stress and is harmful to humans,” Evans says.[3]

        Silence seems to have the opposite effect of the brain to noise. While noise may cause stress and tension silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal Heart discovered that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings of changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.[4]

        Silence replenishes our cognitive resources.

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          The effect that noise pollution can have on cognitive task performance has been extensively studied. It has been found that noise harms task performance at work and school. It can also be the cause of decreased motivation and an increase in error making.  The cognitive functions most strongly affected by noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving.

          Studies have also concluded that children exposed to households or classrooms near airplane flight paths, railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills.

          But it is not all bad news. It is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources. According to the attention restoration theory when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities. In silence the brain is able to let down its sensory guard and restore some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise.[5]

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          Summation

          Traveling to Finland may just well be on your list of things to do. There you may find the silence you need to help your brain. Or, if Finland is a bit out of reach for now, you could simply take a quiet walk in a peaceful place in your neighborhood. This might prove to do you and your brain a world of good.

          Featured photo credit: Angelina Litvin via unsplash.com

          Reference

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