How does music change your brain?

If we believed that the only means of communication for human beings was language, we are very far from reality. Music is a communication tool in the human being that generates a clear effect on cognitive functions and the brain. But, how does it act and what is the relationship between music in the brain? Let’s understand in the following blog.

Music in the brain of a child:

From a very early age, human beings develop a kind of innate musical grammar, and this plays an important role in emotional, cognitive, and social development in the first days of life.

So much so, that it has been shown that newborns already have the development of specific systems of the right hemisphere for the processing of musical information.

This has been confirmed in studies that, using functional magnetic resonance imaging, have examined the brain activity of 1- and 3-day-old newborns while they listened to music excerpts and then altered versions of them.

Brain areas involved:

Although we may think that the journey of music through our brain is simple, it goes a long way in several areas.

From the eardrum, it goes to the brain stem, from there to the midbrain, and continues its journey to the medial geniculate body or auditory thalamus, which connects this information with the auditory cortex of the temporal lobe.

This area is responsible for reducing the background noise of what we hear and modulating the sound, focusing on the characteristics of the isolated tones.

How does music act in the brain? Key structures:

The involvement of music in our brain encompasses many areas. Now, how does music act on the brain? What is the relationship between music and the brain?

– Rostromedial prefrontal cortex: This area shows different levels of activation depending on pitch and rhythm. In such a way that when we listen to a melody, the prefrontal cortex is activated, also processing the emotional part.

– Right temporal lobe: Related to basic sound processing, the right hemisphere registers the rhythm and emotional tone when we communicate. In people with epileptic seizures who had to undergo a surgical operation, where part of this lobe had to be removed, it was observed that they began to have serious problems in perceiving melodies. This same operation on the left lobe did not have such consequences.

– Limbic system: Those brain regions that are related to the recognition of rhythm or melody are linked to the emotional part that governs such a system. Likewise, this emotional part involves the striatal dopaminergic system. This limbic system is connected to areas related to memory, such as the sensory cortex, or supramarginal gyrus.

Why does music move us?

Once in the auditory cortex, the music proceeds to the limbic system, and from the thalamus, there are some projections to the medial orbitofrontal cortex and the amygdala. This area is par excellence the control structure of emotions, regulating the response of pleasure or displeasure to certain stimuli.

Therefore, depending on the type of music we listen to, we experience a series of emotions or others. For example, in a suspense or horror movie, music generally causes us anguish or, on the contrary, when faced with a great soundtrack we can get emotional.