Music Therapy, the Brainand What We Can Learn
Music has been long used to help people achieve therapeutic goals by reducing stress,
relaxing their muscles and synchronising the significant parts of the brain to achieve perfect
harmony. Music therapy can not only enhance brain function but can also act as a catalyst in
improving overall mental and emotional health.
As simple as it may seem, listening to music is actually a complex process since it involves all
parts of your brain and stimulates them differently. The part of your brain responsible for
executing critical cognitive functions relating to memory, attention and consciousness, the
frontal lobe, includes your hippocampus and the cerebellum. Since the hippocampus
controls the person’s emotional side, its activity increases during music therapy and provides
positive feedback to the brain. You may hear a song and feel a sense of familiarity. This may
be because you have listened to the music before. This memory is stored in your
hippocampus and can be stimulated during a music therapy session. Furthermore, your
cerebellum is associated with all physical and motor movements taking place within you.
It is stimulated when you are trying to understand a song’s rhythm.
To analyse a song’s pitch and music, your cerebellum and prefrontal cortex plays an
important part. This is because these parts of your brain are used to recognise auditory
signals in your brain. Furthermore, your prefrontal cortex is the key to understanding and
problem-solving. So, when you try to comprehend the melody or beat of a song and how
you would like it, your prefrontal cortex is stimulated.
We perceive music through the use of language and words. Here the functions of our
temporal lobe in the brain come into play. The words of the music you’re listening to are
interpreted in the left hemisphere while the right hemisphere understands the auditory
information such as the words and language.
During a music therapy session, you may feel a wave of emotions. This is because music
holds the power to trigger feelings and specific emotions. The part of your brain responsible
for these emotional responses is the amygdala and the nucleus accumbens. The nucleus
accumbens, when stimulated, can also produce the happy hormone dopamine.
Lastly, your hypothalamus is essential to maintain the body’s temperature, heart rate, and
mood can undoubtedly be activated depending on the type of music you’re listening to. If
you’re listening to a soothing instrumental, it may reduce your heart rate and blood
pressure. On the other hand, if you’re listening to rock music, your heart rate may increase.
Music therapy is an excellent stimulus in providing everything from pitch to rhythm, melody
to words. Because of this, it can not only trigger all parts of your brain but also offer several
health benefits. It can boost your immunity, decrease anxiety, help in repairing brain
damage, evoke specific memories, reduce muscle tension and uplift your self-esteem. It
activates your speech, memory, motor and cognitive systems in the brain, making your
entire brain region a part of the musical experience.