How does music affect you? Do you have a favorite CD that lifts your mood whenever you play it? Do you have special tunes that energize you or help you sleep? When I was an expecting mom, I read all sorts of articles on the effect of music on the baby’s development and we played music a lot in our house, but I still was amazed to discover how enthusiastically my child responded to music early on. She started swaying and ‘dancing’ when she heard her favorite songs even before she could walk. And she exhibited preferences for upbeat tunes.
So why are so many of us deeply touched by music? Daniel Levitin, a professional musician and neuroscientist sheds some light on the mystery of music in his book This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession. Brain imaging done on people as they listened to music showed that music activated various parts of the brain related to planning, expectation, language, motivation, pleasure. Music elevates dopamine levels, much like narcotics and antidepressants do. Levitin also believes that music promotes cognitive development.
Do you want to explore what is music to your brain? You don’t have to go far these days. Pandora of the Music Genome Project will create a personal radio station for you, playing tunes that you are likely to enjoy, when you indicate your favorite artists or songs. You can also get free classical music recordings via podcast. Interested in meditation music or brain wave therapy? Brain Sync has a collection of CDs and audio programs for you. It also offers a free 10-minute guided meditation if you want to take a little break from your computer.