How Different Music Affects Us

How Different Music Affects Us

Denise Reynoso, Opinion Editor

Music has tons of positive and negative effects on people’s mental and even physical health. Many people listen and use music as a creative outlet or as a way to cope with a situation; our brains actually respond differently to happy and sad music. Our brain allows us to see neutral faces depending whether happy or sad music was being played.

For example, a study was done by Sciencedirect showing that after hearing a short piece of music, participants were more likely to interpret a neutral expression as happy or sad, to match the tone of the music they had heard. Our brains also have two different emotions for music and those are perceived emotions and felt emotions. Which means we understand the music’s emotion without really feeling that emotion ourselves. Whether it is a sad or a happy song, we will perceive it differently depending on how we feel.

No surprise here, but music does help us exercise. In 1911, an American researcher, Leonard Ayres, found that cyclists pedaled faster while listening to music than they did in silence. The reason why this happens is because music drowns out fatigue. As our body realizes we’re tired and wants to stop exercising, we automatically want a break. Listening to music competes for our brain’s attention, and helps us override those signals of fatigue, but this is mostly beneficial for low and moderate exercise. For high intensity exercises, music isn’t as powerful.

We can push through pain and longer exercises while we listen to music and music also help us use our energy more efficiently. In a study done in 2012 by Scientific American it showed that cyclists who listened to music while they cycled required 7% less oxygen than those who cycled in silence.

The emotions evoked by music don’t just feel good, they’re healthy for you. Studies have been done and those studies found that listening to music can reduce anxiety, fight depression, and even help boost the immune system.

However, music can also negatively impact your mental health. For example, people who listen to music for solace use that music to feel understood and less alone. A person with depression might listen to a song about living with the illness and find comfort in it.

People also listen to music that matches their emotional state to express that emotion. For instance, a person who is frustrated might sing along to angry music to provide an outlet for that frustration. In other words, venting negative emotions through music doesn’t help all those negative emotions–in fact, it can even make them worse. There is music therapy now and it is a sanctioned form of health care with clinical, quantitative research to help back it up. In some cases, it is as effective as traditional forms of therapy, especially for adolescents with mood disorders or adults with depression.

In short, music has both positive effects on the mind and as well as the body. Music can help alleviate our anxiety and depression, it helps us exercise as well as gives us strength, and music helps us out of bad moods and so much more.