So…….. previously we discovered, in a laboratory kingdom far far away, that some clever dudes; (amongst a few others), Chabris, Hetland and Pietschnig, through a set of 3 meta analysis, proved that there was in fact a direct correlation between listening to Mozart’s music and and improvement on visuo spatial and spatial temporal tasks (that origami type paper folding and cutting thing). Which is quite something I think. Think of all those things that we could be better at, after a short burst of Mozart in the ears. We also have some understanding as to why there are improvements, based on the constructs of the neo cortex and models such as the trion theory, and how those frequencies effect us neurologically (see previous blog).
Today I am going to cover how exactly listening to Mozart and other music effects ones mood and can lead to arousal. Take arousal as you will from any of the synonyms above….
Mostly this is really about feelings. That being a direct correlation between how we feel and how we perform. Ever felt; de motivated, in a state of depression, sluggish or lethargic? What do we do to snap out of it? Well music has a great deal of influence over that and I am going to tell you, that like eating a big bowl of fruit for breakfast, listening to Mozart has well being benefits, that slices into your very core and titillates the very fibre of your brain to have such profound effects, you will wonder why you never listened to Mozart before, Gods honest truth! And; “Schellenberg (2002), Husain (2001), Thompson, Nantais, Hallam (2005), Nakata, Hunter, Tamoto (2007) proved the advantage of the hypothesis with 2 links that are very well established in psychological literature” (Diana Deutsch The Psychology of Music).
We have a well known hormone called cortisol “that is produced in humans by the zona fasciculata of the adrenal cortex within the adrenal gland. It is released in response to stress and low blood-glucose concentration. It functions to increase blood sugar through gluconeogenesis, to suppress the immune system, and to aid in the metabolism of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. It also decreases bone formation”. that tends to increase when we face stressful situations. One of the main areas of the brain that is effected by a cortisol influx is the hippocampus, which is responsible for working memory and situated fairly near the amygdala: you know that part of the brain which either makes you go “COME ON THEN” or “ARGH” and run away.
In 2006, Flaten, Asli and Simonsen actually proved that listening to calming music does change the level of cortisol in our systems. Triller, Erzen, Dub and co, established that blood pressure could in fact be reduced. In 2004 Bare, Dundes, Cooke and co actually proved that music reduces anxiety. All of this is proven in a medical sense.
So, in relation to recent topics around the treatment of cancer and profit implications to large pharmaceutical chains, is it possible or right to assume that, as there are profound positive effects of listening to music on medical conditions such as stress and anxiety, could music act as a prohibitor, as well as a treatment for an array of medical conditions including cancer? We know this to be the case for epilepsy.
Although there is no medical proof at this stage, that stress can cause cancer, I would say it is more of a common sense fact really. Stay well and happy, be well and happy…. no brainer really. Although easier said than done.
A Shortened versions of outcomes relating to the positive effects of music on mood and recovery (short version to prohibit boredom)…….
- Field 1999 – Correlation between music and being able to falling asleep. Dijkstra, Gamel ad co 2010 – Increase sedation when in intensive care.
- Ebneshahidi & Mohseni 2008 Preferred music reduce levels of pain after surgery Gold Voracek &Wigram 2004 Calm listener – music therapy Cassady,
- Mohammed &Mathieu 2004 Feelings influence cognitive performance – decision making, problem solving, social interaction and thought processes in general – due to dopamine levels which effect cognitive flexibility (Ashby, Isen and Turken 1999).
Ok, so we have a pretty much concluded, through undeniable evidence, that listening to music, has a profound effect and helps calm oneself down, thus effecting mood. But what about arousal I hear you say. So that too. Ever received a small gift and felt pretty special, even a state of elevation? And how did you feel after watching a comedy film? It is that, that feeling that you get, you know, tingly and stuff, those effects are similar to listening to music.
In 1945, a dude called Karl Dunker created an experiment. I wonder if you can think of the solution to this brain teezer and comment below?
You have 2 items in your tool kit.
- a box of matches and
- a box of thumbtacks.
Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to fix the candle on a wall, in such a way so that the candle won’t drip below. How? – comment below
Those who watched a comic film before a test, performed better afterwards than control patients who had not. (Isen, Daubman and Nowicki 1987). The same result were found when remote participants were given a small bag of candy before and and performed better (Isen et al 1987).
So great! we can now be totally sure that there is a direct link between mood and arousal and cognitive performance. I think it is pertinent to say that based on studies, it is more conducive to determine what excites you personally as an individual and gets you motivated, as that has the most productive/profound effect. Boredom impairs performance (Cassady et al 2004) and in this scenario, can you guess which group performed better on the paper folding and cutting task? Was it a. the control group sitting in front of a blank screen for 10 minutes or the group who listened to Mozart K448? I will leave you to answer that one. Nantis and Schellenberg (1999) clarified the boredom and preference thing by splitting a group in half, those that listened to a Stephen King story and those who listened to Mozart. Interestingly there was a 50/50 split on performance and that was determined by choice!
This concept is a bit of pain because there are always going to be less appealing activities that just have to get done. Is there perhaps a way of re framing those activities? So for example, whilst I clean my bathroom, I listen to a podcast or music. The added benefit being that I get to enjoy a sparkly clean environment, that in turn makes me feel happy, which in turn makes me even more productive, and I am able to access things easily, which in turn makes me happy, because it is all a little bit less stressful and time consuming……….
Just a quick tip top tip if I may. Think about what you listen to, and what I mean about that is the tempo (speed) and key (major or minor). For those lamens out there, major is a positive happy key and minor is sad and sombre key. Take for example Albinoni’s Adagio (have a listen) –
which is a pretty well known piece of music, hence the null findings on tests, because there was an associative aspect to this experiment. Hussain et al (2002) proved that arousal was improved after fast tempo music. Obvious huh?
Just to throw a curve ball in there….. if music evokes associations and memories, samples of listeners are going to have a major impact. This is the point at which the BBC got involved. They worked in conjunction with Hallam and Schellenberg in 2005, to conduct a major experiment on the Mozart effect. A staggering 8000 10 and 11 year olds in the UK across 200 schools were selected to form part of a major experiment.
It went a little bit like this. 3 rooms, 2 different styles of music. Radio 1: pop (including Blur), radio 3: Mozart and in the 3rd room a the presenter Susan Hallam discussing this on radio 5. After which they all performed a load of tasks and actually there was no difference in performance. However, when completing tougher tasks, the blur group came up trumps. A revolutionary Blur Effect was born!
Just to really hammer home the point, that when it comes to music, relevance and association holds far more superior importance over performance, than solely listening to Mozart. Although maybe, if you play or get children involved in Mozart at an early age, we would could evidence still higher results. Food for thought anyhow.
Japanese 5 year old were tested on creativity and measured on
- Drawing times
- Level of creativity (judged by adults),
- Energy and technical proficiency.
After listening to Mozart K448, Albinoni’s Adagio and play songs. You guessed it, the play songs had the better results. Schellenberg was interested in taking this a little further beyond spatial ability and tested college freshmen on speed and working memory. Mozart and Albinoni Arousal and mood tested before and after. Mozart’s music greatly effected the speed of performance in those participants. Thus tempo having a direct correlation with the speed of performance. Slow music, slow performance. Fast music, fast performance.
So here is the deal, listening to music, improves ones emotional state, which in turn has a positive effect on tasks and general well being. The more difficult the task is the better the effect that fast music has on the efficiency with which those tasks are performed. On the less challenging tasks we can see the effect that music has on the speed and quality of which tasks are completed and also on working memory (Rauscher et al 1995).
Play around with these concepts yourself and perhaps measure your own performance such as the speed with which you complete a task and see what happens. I would be interested to know.
Sorry there was no sex bit, I hope I did not disappoint, although, again, maybe thats an experiment all of your own.
Until next time