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Published on January 2nd, 2015 | by AlexandreG.


Brain Hacking With a Beat: How Music Alters Mood

Whether you’re gearing up for the gym or sitting down to study, the link between music and mood has always been suspected but may go even deeper than we think. Not only can music strongly affect mood but these effects can be used to alter behavior, aptitude, memory retention and more. Through a careful understanding of these links, we can remain more in control of our mood and even “hack” our brain and behavior.

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Listening to music while studying can aid in retention and creativity.

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But it may not be the type of music that you think. Certainly, classical music has often been thought to stimulate the brain; the melodic complexities and repetitions in classical music inspire the brain to pay attention. This is one reason why expecting mothers-to-be try to expose their unborn child to classical music while still in the womb. But classical music has only been seen to be more beneficial in the areas of hard science: mathematics and physics. For more creative pursuits and humanities, pop music has actually been seen to be more beneficial, potentially because it fires up the other side of the brain.


Casinos use music to generate a sense of excitement and expectation.

A study on how casino music may affect the experience of gambling, done by TitanBet Casino, shows that gambling is designed to get the blood pumping and the heart racing. An upbeat, continuous melody enforces this, while drops in the music build up moments of tension. Essentially, the casino industry can use music to improve the overall emotional experience of gambling–more specifically games such as slots machines, which don’t have the social momentum of blackjack and poker to drive them. This operates in very much the same way that music in movies operates, with rising actions and falling actions that aid the listener in feeling a context-sensitive emotion.


Music gives athletes the motivation to exercise and push themselves.

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Many people cannot even hit the gym without their workout music prepared. Why is music and exercise so tightly entwined? Scientific American explains that it’s less about the specific music and more about the unique emotions and memories that the listener attributes to them. In other words, the music that motivates an athlete is quite personal, unlike many other examples of music altering mood and behavior. In athletic pursuits, the goal is often to reach a zone of concentration through which the athletes can do their best. Music can transport athletes into a positive frame of mind, allowing them to ignore fatigue and exhaustion. That being said, though personal associations are important, they aren’t everything. The music should ideally still have a relatively fast beat.


Music therapy can be used to reduce anxiety and depression.

A study by Queen’s University found that children and adolescents with depression could have some of their more negative feelings alleviated through the use of musical therapy. Though this study was comprised of youthful subjects, it likely goes without saying that listening to music that has positive associations for you can certainly move and inspire. This study may lead to a further understanding of anxiety and depressive disorders. In the mean time, however, those who are feeling a little down can always queue in their favorite happy music for a quick pick-me-up. For those who have a tendency to get locked into negative thoughts, music may be distracting enough to break the cycle.


Creativity can be enhanced through the careful application of ambient noise.

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When you’re looking to be creative and inspired, Lifehacker reports that a moderate, ambient noise level maybe desirable. Though you don’t want the sounds around you to drown out your thoughts, you still want some level of background noise to pull upon. But the highly structured, melodic harmonies of classical music may be a bit too restrictive for this application. Ambient noise or more discordant music gives you more of a rough and blank canvas, while classical music leads you through a pattern.

Music is used, both by ourselves and others, to set our mood and expectations throughout our day. Television shows use dramatic music to elevate tension while restaurants bring in gentle, friendly music to heighten their atmosphere. By understanding the link between mood and music, we can use music ourselves to improve and control our mood, ultimately leading to better productivity and success.


About the Author


Is just a guy who got tired of bothering his friends talking about music, and decided to create a blog to write about what he loves the most.

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