Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Music, the Brain and Your Health

Music, the Brain and Your Health


Barrington H, Brennen

In this article, Barrington H, Brennen speaks about the importance of music by giving many quotations from neuroscientists and psychologists. He states that music could give both positive and negative effect that can last for a longtime in spite of being exposed for a short moment. He gives an anecdote of Albert Einstein’s musical education to support his opinion. Brennen says that Einstein himself stated that playing violin enabled him to become a successful scientist.
In the first paragraph, Brennen explains the relationship between music’s tempo and physical health. He says slow music helps decrease human’s heart and respiratory rate. On the other hand, fast music gives the contrary effects. He emphasizes that the relationship in terms of the tempo is effectively used in the field of music therapy. Music therapy even can strengthen non-musical field such as communication skills, academic and motor skills.
He introduces a muscle test method of Dr. John Diamond, a physician and applied kinesiologist. Diamond discovered a relationship between muscle strength and music and claims that hard rock’s “stopped anapestic beat” weaken the muscles in the entire human body. The article gives another researcher’s experiment which supports right music's positive effect. According to Costas Karageogis, appropriate music enables an athlete to boost his performance result up to 20 per cent higher.

Brennen informs the effect of loud music by presenting a music perception specialist, Dr. Neil Todd’s research. Dr. Todd announces that loud music stimulates “sacculus”, a part of the inner ear that controls body’s sexual and appetite desire. Despite the sacculus' general role is to control the sense of balance of human body, noises above 90 decibels activates its another function.
In the last paragraph, the author emphasizes the importance of listening to classical music which gives many positive effects to human body and mind. He especially recommends Baroque music since it relaxes heart beat and blood pressure. He also raises the importance of early music education. According to Rauscher and Shaw, early piano lessons resulted in 35 percent - increase of the spatial and temporal reasoning ability to children compared to those who consumed same amount of time to learn computers.(Neurological Research, February 1997) To sum up, Brennen quotes Dr. Ardash Kumar's research about the effect of music therapy to Alzheheimer's patients to emphasize the importance of musicto people of all ages. 
After reading Stacy’s Heavy Metal and the Brain. I decided to find an article which speaks about the relationship between hard rock music and the brain. Brennen’s article mostly consists of quotations of other scientists and music perception experts. The content is also what we have studied in the class, but it also explains the effect of loud music and the relationship between hard rock and the brain so I will narrow down my reflection into this subject.
One of the most interesting things in this article is that hard rock music and muscle strength. Dr. John diamond says music consists of the “stopped anapestic beat” weaken all of the muscles in the human body. According to his research, it includes music of Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper (it doesn’t surprise me, if you don’t know him, google his images.)Queen, (One of my favorite groups in my 10~20’s!). If this is true, I believe the effect applies for heavy metal music as well since heavy metal is more aggressive than hard rock. Dr. David Hawkins also experimented the effect of various types of music, and claimed that listening to classical music strengthens people’s muscles and listening to heavy metal disables drug abusers to escape from the addiction.(Hawkins, 2002, 269). Hawkins also quoted Diamonds’ experiments to support his idea, but I’ve found a contradiction between Hawkins and Diamonds’ experiment results.
Hawkins classified “classical” rock and roll into the positive music category with traditional classical music. It includes music of Beatles, but it seems that Diamond categorizes soft rock music. (For example, the groups in Diamond’s negative category, Led Zeppelin and Queen also composed beautiful lyrical pieces.) Diamond categorizes positive music and negative music in terms of rhythm, but it might be possible that there are other elements of music which can give various effects to human body and mind. (For example, lyrics of songs, harmonic progressions and so on...) On the other hand, it gives me a curiosity about the effect of “loud” classical music such as Stravinsky’s Petrushka and the rite of spring. Do they strengthen listener’s body and mind? I think it is worth to study the effects of powerful and loud classical music.(especially pieces composed in the 20th century.)

Brennen, Barrington. "Music, The Brain And Your Health - Barrington Brennen August 7, 2013 Bahamas."Accessed November 10, 2014.http://www.soencouragement.org/musicandthebrain.htm.
Heather, Simon. "Can Listening to Music Be Harmful to Us." www.simonheather.co.uk. Accessed November 10, 2014.
Hawkins, David R. Power vs. Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior. Rev. ed. Carlsbad, Calif.: Hay House, 2002.
"Music for the Sacculus: A Blast from the past." Music for the Sacculus: A Blast from the past. Accessed November 10, 2014. http://cogweb.ucla.edu/ep/Sacculus.html.


Stacey U. said...

I think that a very large sociocultural dimension is missing from this argument. Not only do people of various cultures perceive the same music completely differently with different associations, but even people from the same culture can have opposing reactions to any music from Mozart to Metallica. From what I understand, musical tastes and preferences are essential in music therapy, and what music we like—regardless of someone declaring it as “healthy” or “unhealthy”—might make us equally happy through autobiographical or collective memories, or the social interaction surrounding it, or because of the simple fact that our brain anatomy positively responds to it. Therefore I don’t think there could be such a thing as “positive” and “negative” music, it’s just not that black and white. I do find the point you raise about loud/powerful art (classical) music to be very interesting.

And to be honest, I am slightly concerned by the tone of the source article. I feel like the author, Brennen—particularly being a minister and not a less-biased writer like a scientist, academic, or reporter—might try to use certain information (whether positive or negative) about how music affects your brain to further his own conservative agenda. This is evident throughout the article (where he takes a gentle stab at “hard rock” and “loud music,” and especially apparent in the last paragraph where he writes about the “wholesome” music we should be listening to: “Let your music choice include a variety—religious, classical and inspirational music”…which is hardly a variety at all. Therefore I am inclined not to take much of what Brennen writes in terms of actual scientific data at face value.

Francois said...

Hello Stacy, thank you for leaving a comment. Actually, I wrote this after reading your post regarding heavy metal music. I tried to find some resources and Brennen's article was the only one that contains the issue about heavy metal. that's why I choe it in spite of the lack of credibility. However, David Hawkins and John Diamond are turstable experts in this field. I will leave a comment on your post!

Veronica V said...

I thought it was interesting that Brennen states that "music could give both a positive and negative effect that can last a long time in spite of being exposed for a short moment." It is known that music can have adverse effects in that it could bring up negative emotions and associations from a memory, but I have yet to hear that a certain type of music, in this case, rock, can weaken the muscles of the entire body. It is interesting that Brennen claims that it is specifically the stopped anapestic beat that is responsible for this. One would think that the tempo and timbre of rock music would keep someone alert, however, it seems that the anapestic beat can override these elements and therefore, weaken muscles.
Also, when Karageogis claims that the "appropriate music enables an athlete to boost his performance result up to 20% higher," I wonder what type of music is he referring to and how long they listened to it. I also wonder what sport they engaged in specifically after listening to music, and how long?
When Dr. Todd states that "loud music stimulates the 'sacculus', a part of the inner ear that controls body's sexual and appetite desire," again, what type of music is he referring to? He also claims that listening to noises above 90 decibels activates another function. What function does it activate? 90 decibels seems awfully loud... In fact, 90-95 dB may result in hearing loss.
I agree with Stacey in that it seems that Brennen is biased in that he seems to approach this topic as more of a minister rather than a scientist. Although this has been an interesting article, I am skeptical.
Thank you for sharing Francois.