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Can You Believe That Sad Songs Actually Make Us Happy? See What Science Explains!

Can You Believe That Sad Songs Actually Make Us Happy? See What Science Explains!

Most of us have tendency to avoid sad songs and music when we feel particularly down since we believe that it will make us feel even worse.

For most people, post-breakup behavior usually includes actually listening to a lot of sad songs whose music and lyrics speak of our woe in order to make us feel even worse and get all the sadness out as soon as possible. Yet, seems that we all had it wrong all along. Science proves the opposite is true – sad music actually makes us happier and improves our mental health. Here’s how.

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Songs are sad but they bring positivity to our brain!

Similarly to the case of a musical device called appoggiatura found in a number of sad songs, such as Adele’s “Someone Like You”, there is a scientific explanation to why sad music actually makes us happy. David Huron, a professor of arts and humanities in the School of Music and the Center for Cognitive Science at the Ohio State University, has been studying the effects of sad music on people. During earlier studies, he has found that certain groups of people are more likely to listen to sad music – people with openness, experiences, and people who score high on neuroticism tests. According to Huron, the hormone prolactin is responsible for positive impact that sad music has on our feelings.

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So What does sad song does to our brain?

Prolactin, mostly known as the hormone that causes lactation in breastfeeding women, is also being released during times of great grief. During great sorrow, our bodies produce the hormone as a natural soother to ease the process and help us cope easier. Similarly, as we are listening to sad songs, our body sends out a similar signal, which results in the production of prolactin. Therefore, as we listen to sad songs, we actually trick our body into creating a pleasant environment and happier feelings. “It’s as though Mother Nature has stepped in and said, ‘We don’t want the grief to get too exorbitant,'” Huron explains in an interview with The National.

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So, no matter if you listen to sad music when you are feeling sad, or just because you like the feeling, now you have the scientific explanation of why you enjoy Adele’s music so much.

A list of songs You Can Listen to

  1. Since U Been Gone,” Kelly Clarkson
  2. Hello“, Adele
  3. Irreplaceable,” Beyoncé
  4. Cry Me a River,” Justin Timberlake
  5. Someone Like You,” Adele
  6. I Knew You Were Trouble,” Taylor Swift
  7. Because of you“, Kelly Clarkson
  8. The Heart Wants What It Wants” Selena Gomez
  9. A Million Reasons“, Lady Gaga
  10. Echoes of Silence,” The Weeknd

Featured photo credit: https://www.youtube.com/ via youtube.com

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Ana Erkic

Social Media Consultant, Online Marketing Strategist, Copywriter, CEO and Co-Founder of Growato

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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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