At work, in the car, on the elliptical – we use music wherever we go. If you’ve ever felt totally lost without your tunes, there are scientific reasons why. Here are just four ways music can needle your noodle:
It reduces anxiety
From lullabies to the soothing strains of a yoga studio, we have an instinctive understanding of music’s effect on anxiety. And our intuitions have been proven correct: One study found that music – especially songs with ascending melodic progressions and narrow intervals between notes – eases anxiety.
It can boost productivity
Though research results differ, some studies show that background music helped improve worker productivity. Care to try it for yourself? One music therapist suggests using wordless music so the language centers of your brain aren’t activated and distracted.
It changes your view of the world
Of course tunes can tweak your timbre, but it can be even more powerful. Music can change your perceptions of the world. When researchers asked subjects to identify happy or sad faces while listening to happy or sad music, participants were more likely to see the faces that matched the music. Even when there was no face, subjects believed they saw faces matching the mood of the music.
It even affects the amusic
If the magic of music is truly lost on you, you could have amusia, a condition in which individuals are unable to produce or perceive music. But music affects the mood of amusic people, too… it just might leave them more annoyed than enthralled.
Image: Headphones Monkey, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from morgantj’s photostream.