One of the newest human research projects growing and expanding rapidly is the relationship between music and the brain. The international foundation for music research is supposedly the leading research group in this area.
There are hundreds of research projects going on but one that grabbed my attention is a study on music therapy boosting melatonin levels, a chemical produced by the pineal gland that plays a key role in sleep, aging, and reproduction. (this study was done on elderly with Alzheimer’s Disease)
To keep it short and simple, the music increased there melatonin levels by 216% and the levels continued to rise as time passed. That is extremely incredible. So the elderly lives were increased dramatically, anywhere from happiness levels to sleeping patterns.
“This is the first time we’ve quantified the effects of music,” says Dr. Mahendra Kumar of the university of Miami school of medicine, one of the researchers behind the study.
The study also noted changes in other brain chemicals such as prolactin, serotonin, norepinephrine and epinephrine. Perhaps more importantly, it found that the fluctuations in these chemicals correlated with each other to varying degrees, indicating that the music therapy was affecting the larger natural process by which the brain regulates their levels.
Melatonin is a common supplement to regulate sleep has become a popular response to insomnia and jet lag. However, he noted, using a pill to address only one element in the symphony of brain chemicals could disrupt homeostasis, the body’s natural tendency to keep things in balance.
“All drugs have bad side effects,” Dr. Kumar explains.
“Hormones are interdependent. When you take a pill like melatonin, it will stop its own synthesis in your body.”
It’s obvious pills are not healthy, so a very positive and more fun alternative is being discovered here. Music therapy might just be the way to go.
“In my opinion, if someone is depressed and not getting good sleep, this kind of music will take them into a different domain,” Dr. Kumar concluded.
Research is also being done in several other aspects of the human brain such as infants developing neuro pathways, learning, concentrating and not to mention all of the mental illnesses that music could possibly help and even cure. This is just scratching the surface on what is really being done by leading scientist in these fields.
For example, Students who were exposed to the music-based lessons scored a full 100 percent higher on fractions tests than those who learned in the conventional manner. Middle school and high school students who participated in instrumental music scored significantly higher than their non-band peers in standardized tests.
In conclusion, music is magnificent and does magical things, most currently unexplained but seems to be soon we will have some more solid answers as these studies continue to progress and expand further.
– Trenton Seymour