Music on the Brain

Gabrielle Lowery
Staff Writer

PC: Picasso 3 Musicians

As you are walking to class, your best friend is a couple of feet behind you screaming your name to get your attention, but you cannot hear them, nor can the people around you because you all have music on the brain. But why is it we are all listening to music?

According to, statistics have shown that nearly 87 percent of people in the US use headphones to listen to music, and the majority of these people are college students. Whether studying, eating, at a party, or transitioning to classes, music is the common denominator between the majority. However, music is more than just sounds in our ears.

According to, in an article about the benefits of music, they noted that musicians have a significant increase in reaction time. They went on to list eight ways that playing musical instruments can strengthen the brain, which include; strengthening bonds with other people, strengthening memory and reading skills, as well as improving an individual’s mood, increasing blood flow, reducing stress and depression, etc.

This all seems great, especially for the talented students within the School of Music at UNCG. Performing in recitals and dedicating numerous hours to the study of music seems almost as majestic as it sounds. Music seems to have some sort of magical spell on most students, causing them to listen almost every day.

However, music is so universal that it is nearly impossible for there to not be an effect on the majority of the population that either listens to or plays music. While studies have shown that musicians have greater reaction times, listening to music is beneficial to all by eliminating stress, eliciting emotions and feelings that can improve positivity, physiological state and cognitive thinking.

College students are often faced with the pressures of academic stress, which extends further than not comprehending what material professors are trying to teach. Academic stress has many contributors such as relationships, financial burdens, grades and other environmental factors.

Musical therapists have been using music as a way of teaching and promoting positive behavior and emotions for centuries, but people do not often think of how they can be their own musical therapist.

Take into consideration how people feel when listening to their favorite song. There is often joy, excitement and many other positive emotions that lead to dancing and/or singing. Music has a very strong influence on the brain causing certain emotions to be elicited.

Determining what ways certain genres of music make you feel can be beneficial in your academic and personal life.

When students study for exams, it is generally best to listen to more soothing songs such as jazz or classical music, as they help you to focus on the task at hand.

However, students that are academically stressed and are seeking ways to improve their emotions should try listening to their favorite songs during their down periods.

A study conducted by Jin-Liang Wang in the school of psychology at Southwest University in Chongqing, suggested that music was a great coping mechanism and very beneficial for relieving anxiety, depression and other mental health illnesses.

Music is so powerful that it has control over the chemicals within peoples’ bodies. According to Elizabeth Stegemöller, a researcher in music therapy, neurotransmitters are messengers that produce functions both inside and out of our being. Dopamine is a key component for motivational functioning and can be produced by listening to music.

According to, “dopamine levels continuously signal how good or valuable the current situation is regarding obtaining a reward. This message helps people decide how vigorously to work toward a goal, while also allowing themselves to learn from mistakes.”

College students all have one common goal, which is to graduate and obtain a degree. With music being so beneficial to the brain, it is no wonder why headphones are seen everywhere on campus- it is literally a safe haven for a lot of people.

Whether students are aware of the benefits of music or not it is something they should continue to incorporate into their daily lives because, as Debasish Mridha says, “Music can heal the wounds that medicine cannot touch.”

Categories: Features

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