MUSIC affects many different areas of the brain as shown in the image above, but it is also the study of how we react to certain melodies that has become increasingly more interesting over time. We respond to musical stimuli in ways that we don’t even realise or acknowledge as discussed below.
1. Happy/sad music affects how we see neutral faces:
Our brains respond differently to happy and sad melodies and it can even go so far as influencing our interpretation of the world that surrounds us. A recent study suggested that after hearing a short piece of music, participants were more likely to interpret a neutral expression in another person as happy or sad, to match the tone of the music they had just heard. This also happened with other facial expressions, but was most notable for those that were close to neutral.
2. Our music choices can predict our personality:
Controversial, perhaps, but a study was conducted concerning couples who spent time getting to know each other from the very beginning of their relationship. This study analysed their top ten favourite songs to provide information regarding the listener’s personality traits. It took into account five basic personality traits: openness to experience, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness and emotional stability.
Interestingly, some traits were more accurately predicted based on the person’s listening habits than others. For instance, openness to experience, extraversion and emotional stability were the easiest to guess correctly. Conscientiousness, on the other hand, wasn’t obvious based on musical taste. This research helped to predict compatibility among the couples based on their musical preferences.
Some connections Heriot-Watt University has found between your personality and the music you listen to:
- Blues fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing, gentle and at ease with themselves.
- Hip-Hop fans have high self-esteem and are outgoing.
- Country and western fans are hard working and outgoing.
- Indie fans have low self-esteem, are creative, not hard working, and not gentle.
- Rock/heavy metal fans have low self-esteem, are creative, not hard working, not outgoing, are gentle and at ease with themselves.
- Chart pop fans have high self-esteem, are hard working, outgoing and gentle, but are not creative and not at ease with themselves.
3. Music training can significantly improve our motor and reasoning skills:
Learning a musical instrument is useful in more ways than we might expect. One study suggested that children who had three years or more musical instrument training performed better than those who didn’t learn an instrument in auditory discrimination abilities and fine motor skills. They also tested better on vocabulary and nonverbal reasoning skills, which involve understanding and analysing visual information. Therefore, by learning a musical instrument you are also learning a wide variety of important life skills.
These are just a few ways in which music affects our brains and all of this data is supported by relevant research. What have you learned about yourself from reading this article? Let us know in the comments below or take the poll!