How dose music affects us? Da spostare
Life Style

Author: GianLuca Bruno
Date: 10/01/2014

Humanity knows and produces music from pre-historical age and the power of music and his relationship with the body activity were already known by the ancient Assyrians and Greeks. In fact during the Olympic Games in ancient Greece, musicians were paid for playing flute and kithara with the aim of improving athlete's performance(Révész G. Einführung in die Musikpsychologie. Bern: A.Frank Ag. Verlag; 1953).
Music can evoke a wide variety of emotions including tranquility, joy, sadness, fear,...
But what is the music? During the century the concept of music change whit the social transformations. For the Treccani, the most prestigious Italian vocabulary, Musica ,l’arte che consiste nell’ideare e nel produrre successioni strutturate di suoni semplici o complessi, che possono variare per altezza (cioè per la frequenza delle vibrazioni del corpo sonoro), per intensità (cioè per l’ampiezza delle vibrazioni) e per timbro (che dipende dal materiale del corpo sonoro), per mezzo della voce umana, di strumenti o della combinazione di entrambe queste fonti. (musics: sequences of sounds simple or complex, which can vary in height, intensity and stamp.)
Thomas Clifton affirms that “music is the actualization of the possibility of any sound whatever to present to some human being a meaning which he experiences with his body—that is to say, with his mind, his feelings, his senses, his will, and his metabolism ”(Clifton T. Music as heard: A study in applied phenomenology. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press; 1983.)
Musics have a very different effect on body metabolism, health and neurochemical systems:
  • reward
  • motivation and exercise
  • pleasure
  • stress
  • pain management
  • immunity
  • cardiac function

Anatomical and physiological bases

Music is elaborated in a primary acoustic projection center localized in Brodman's areas 41 and 42 of the temporal lobes, whereas the adjacent area 22 is the secondary auditory projection center.
A tonotopical organization, beginning from the cochlea and maintained in the acoustic nerve, has been described within these areas, resembling the somatotopical organization of other cortical regions. There is a different activation in left and right hemisphere:right in inexpert listener perceives timbre and melody, whereas the left is instead activated in musicians analyzes rhythm and pitch, the Mathematical and syntactical face of music.
(Tonotopic organization of theauditory cortex )

Metabolic effects

Stress, pain management motivation, exercise and cardiac function

Listening relaxing music (slow tempo, low pitch no lyrics) has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress in healthy people.
The effects of relaxing music on stress hormones levels along the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis have been investigated in healthy subjects at rest, in combination with imagery and during stressful tasks A form of music therapy was found to reduce HPA activation in healthy subjects.

Cortisol and endorphin decreased in GIM (guided imagery and music) so music has the ability to trigger decrasese in energy catabolism.
Very fast music like techno music has the ability to rise up the plasma cortisol, Acth prolacitn GH hormone levels and norepinephrine levels.
This 2 opposite effect of music are used in very different situationin the everyday life. The ability of music to decrease stress has valid therapeutic uses that have been studied in various clinical environments. Perioperative acoustical stimulation has been shown to decrease the amount of sedative and analgesic medication needed in addition to decreasing perioperative anxiety and postoperative pain and improving overall postoperative recovery. The patients that receiving musical stimulation before, during, and shortly after surgery required less sedative medication to achieve light sedation under regional anesthesia. A meta-analysis of six studies with 641 patients undergoing endoscopy showed that music therapy lowered analgesia requirements by 29% and procedure time by 21%.Taken together, these studies demonstrate perioperative roles for the impact of music on stress reduction and metabolism, as indicated by lower analgesic requirements and enhancement of the sedative effects of analgesia.
The rise of norepinephrine and HPA axis is used in the sport in fact during exercise, music is commonly used for motivational purposes, to counterbalance emotional and physical fatigue, and to improve performance. Recent research has implied physiologic evidence for the role of music in increasing exercise performance, improving the lipid profile, and facilitating stexercise recovery. Listening to fast music has been found to affect respiratory frequency and cortisol responses under high-intensity exercise conditions (Brownley et al., 1995.). Heart rate showed a significant increase if the music contains a fast beat (Harrer, 1982). And indirect signs of increased sympathetic activity, such as the measures of galvanic skin responses, have been reported after emotional music, in comparison with quiet music.
A new use of repetitive, beating, atonal tracks listened to at a high volume through headphones is now becoming very popular among teenagers. Formerly called digital drugs . At present, the scientific evidence on the effects and/or the potential harms (taking for granted the damage of the acoustic system) of this new form of “drug” is almost completely lacking . Nevertheless, the phenomenon of digital drugs or I-dosing has not been comprehensively analyzed as yet, so that the presumption that these can be a potential danger to the consumer must be considered as plausible.


Music probably the music has the same benefit associated with foods, sex or other reinforcing stimuli; some studies esperiment prove that that music affects the same neurochemical systems of reward as other reinforcing stimuli.
These studies suggest that musical reward involves activation of the NAc, as well as opioid-rich midbrain nuclei known to regulate morphine analgesia and descending inhibition of pain. Listening to pleasur-able music was found to be associated with NAc activation, as well as ventral tegmental area (VTA)-mediated inter-actions between the NAc and brain structures known to regulate autonomic, emotional, and cognitive functions . Dopaminergic neurons originating in the VTA with major projections to the NAc and forebrain regions are necessary for the efficacy of rewarding stimuli . A strong link between emotional and cognitive subsystems during musical pleasure was uncovered, linking orbito-frontal cortex with the mesocorticolimbic dopaminer-gic circuitry (NAc and VTA). This suggests that musical reward is dependent on dopaminergic neurotransmission within a similar neural network as other reinforcing sti-muli.
It is plausible that the positive affect or euphoria that accompanies musical activity is critically dependent on opioid mechanisms (perhaps acting synergistically with dopamine; separating these systems presents a challenge). Music listening reportedly lowers requirements for opiate drugs in postoperative pain, which suggests that music may stimulate the release of endogenous opioid peptides within the brain.


A small number of studies found that music boosts the innate or non-specific immune system, indicated by in-creased NK cell activity and mucosal immunity; music has anti-inflammatory properties, indicated by positive changes in cytokine profile.
Passive listening to relaxing music has been associated with decreases in IL-6 in critically-ill patients and healthy participants . This is consistent with a bene-ficial effect of musical intervention on stress-related cytokine production . Increases in levels of growth hormone were also reported in critically-ill patients during music-induced relaxation and a similar response to music listening has been reported in healthy participants. Increased salivary-IgA concentrations from baseline have been reported following experimenter-chosen music that was relaxing.Three studies found that group singing elicits a greater increase in s-IgA concentrations than passive listening salivary flow rate, s-IgA concentrations increased 150% during rehearsals and 240% during the performance.


A great deal has been discovered about the neuroanatomical basis for music, whereas not much is known about its neurochemical basis. Studies of the neurochemistry of music may be the next great frontier.
The promise of music-based treatments is that they are noninvasive, have minimal or no side effects, are inexpensive, convenient, and completely ‘natural’.
Individual differences in personality and cognitive traits influence psychological and physiological responses to different types of music.


AddThis Social Bookmark Button