Have you ever wondered why we feel what we feel while listening to music?
What makes it so special and different from the other stimuli that come to us during our lives?
The answers to these questions lie deep in the way our brain perceives, interprets, and processes music.
Anyone who has heard a song that moved him knows that the feeling is unlike anything else. The song begins with the ears and ends when the music echoes in some way through all four major lobes of the brain, producing reactions throughout the body, arousing emotions and activating memory systems. A closer look at the musical tracks in which the music moves in the brain reveals why it has played such a powerful role in our lives for so long.
The auditory cortex and beyond
Music recorded in the brain does not pass through the brain in a regular way. Even though some things happen earlier than others, most things happen simultaneously. The various structures involved in understanding the music constantly transfer information to each other and process different information simultaneously to build understanding and response to music.
However, at the earliest stage, the auditory cortex is the first gate, which is primarily responsible for analyzing the most basic features of the music we listen to – such as pitch and volume. He works closely with the cerebellum to break down the flow of musical information into its basic parts: height, hue, spatial location and duration. This information is processed by higher brain structures that analyze and expand the music into the rich experience we all know.
The cerebellum has close connections with the amygdala – the emotional center of the brain, and the frontal lobe – which is heavily involved in planning and control. Another system that is very involved in musical processing is the mesolimbic system. It is the system responsible for feelings of arousal, enjoyment, and transfer of neurotransmitters like dopamine. This is also where things become interesting.
Dopamine rush – what we feel when eating a nutritious meal or having sex – produces the same unique feeling, the same shudder that comes up when we listen to a beautiful piece of music. This feeling is caused by activity in a small area of the brain called a kodta, which begins to create a response up to 15 seconds before the emotional peak of the song!
Our strongest emotional reactions are the result of long-term expectations and a sudden solution. The good composers throughout history understood this principle long before neurology proved it. They used techniques to extend the expected response, such as constant patterns and variables, rate change and melodic decision making. The longer the artist pulls the change, the stronger the emotional power will be.
The pace and our bodies
According to many reports from neurological scans, we process rhythm differently than melodies. The rhythm activates in our brain the parts related to movement. Do you know the feeling that a particular song simply causes an irresistible urge to dance? This may be the reason. It has also been found that rhythmic music often causes blood to pump into the muscles in our legs, causing people to knock with their feet to the beat. Rhythms can also cause changes in heart rate and breathing patterns as well as cause these internal cycles to sync with music. This rhythmic connection indicates one of the most common functions of using music as a way to create a sense of connection between separate people.
Surprisingly, the visual cortex is very active during listening to music. Science has no precise explanation as to why the parts responsible for visual processing are so active in our connection with music. A possible explanation was given by Daniel Levitin, a senior researcher in music psychology because it is because listeners imagine movement or imagine that they are watching the show. Either way, music has a wonderful ability to move us from the inside out.
Music and memory
Maybe the strongest reason people go back to music is their close connection to memory. Because memories are not stored in the brain at a central location, but spread across neurological pathways, the ability of the music to activate such large areas of the brain serves as a very effective stimulus for arousing memories. The connection of music to emotion gives these musical memories an even greater meaning. In fact, music has been so effective in rejuvenating memories that it has been used to help Alzheimer’s patients re-awaken parts of their self.
Listening to music provides one-of-a-kind mental training. The way it activates all four lobes of the brain makes it an amazing tool for building and strengthening neural circuits in the brain and how it fits into the emotional centers makes it a particularly powerful driving force.
Well-known neuroscientist Oliver Sacks sums up beautifully in his book from Museophophilia:
“Music has a tremendous impact on people who have lost their memory, people who can not talk, people without motor ability, there is something in the music that makes a person move according to her pace, it’s unique to people. “People with no Parkinson’s cannot move but react to music, but they need something that will balance their pace and give them back,” he says. The music gives it to them. “