Fine tun­ing

Mu­sic can boost cre­ativ­ity and help you ex­er­cise,

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - This Week - says Re­becca Snider Martin

M OST peo­ple spend a large part of their day lis­ten­ing to mu­sic. The ra­dio’s an essen­tial part of the school run, a work­out would be bor­ing with­out a great playlist, and you can’t dance a Satur­day night away in si­lence.

Sci­en­tists have been re­search­ing the ben­e­fits of lis­ten­ing to mu­sic too, with some sur­pris­ing re­sults — in fact, re­searchers from Rad­boud Univer­sity in the Nether­lands and Syd­ney’s Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy re­cently found lis­ten­ing to ‘happy mu­sic’ can make us more cre­ative.

But mu­sic can do a lot more than just make you more cre­ative. Here are five other amaz­ing things you didn’t know mu­sic could do for your mind, mood and well­be­ing.

1. Help you ex­er­cise Most peo­ple would find go­ing for a run with­out mu­sic bor­ing, but they might not know they would also find it phys­i­cally harder. Mu­sic has been proven to have the abil­ity to syn­chro­nise your rhythm and move­ment, dis­tract you from fa­tigue, and aid with mus­cle mem­ory.

Costas Kara­georghis, a lead­ing ex­pert on the psy­chol­ogy of ex­er­cise based at Lon­don’s Brunel Univer­sity, ar­gues mu­sic is “a type of le­gal per­for­mance-en­hanc­ing drug.”

2. Make you smarter The pos­i­tive im­pact lis­ten­ing to mu­sic can have on some­body’s abil­ity to study are long known, and the term the ‘Mozart ef­fect’ has made its way into pop­u­lar us­age.

The term comes from a 1993 study which pur­ported that par­tic­i­pants who lis­tened to Mozart, as op­posed to si­lence or ver­bal re­lax­ation in­struc­tions, scored higher marks in spa­tial-rea­son­ing tasks in an IQ test. There was no long-term im­pact on IQ points how­ever — but if that’s what you’re af­ter, learn­ing to play mu­sic your­self, rather than just lis­ten­ing to it, might help.

Lutz Jancke, a psy­chol­o­gist at the Univer­sity of Zurich, has said that: “Learn­ing to play a mu­si­cal in­stru­ment has def­i­nite ben­e­fits and can in­crease IQ by seven points, in both chil­dren and adults.”

3. Jog your mem­o­ries There’s a rea­son why mu­sic is some­times used as a form of ther­apy, par­tic­u­larly in care homes and for peo­ple with mem­ory prob­lems. For in­stance, the Bri­tish Alzheimer So­ci­ety of­fers a ser­vice called ‘Singing for the Brain’, which they say ‘gives chal­lenges to the brain’ and ‘helps con­cen­tra­tion’ in peo­ple with mem­ory prob­lems.

4. Make you hap­pier Lis­ten­ing to mu­sic you like causes your brain to re­lease dopamine, which sends sig­nals to the parts of your brain associated with re­ward and plea­sure, and sup­press cor­ti­sol, the ‘stress hor­mone’. Med­i­cal doc­tor Dan Robert­son says: “This will work with any of your favourite songs — even sad ones will pro­duce the de­sired ef­fect.” This means lis­ten­ing to mu­sic is di­rectly linked to low­ered stress lev­els and height­ened lev­els of hap­pi­ness.

5. Help man­age pain Re­search by Brunel Univer­sity and Queen Mary Univer­sity found that lis­ten­ing to mu­sic be­fore, dur­ing, or af­ter surgery leaves pa­tients need­ing less pain med­i­ca­tion than those who have not lis­tened to mu­sic.

Child and ado­les­cent coun­sel­lor, Deb­o­rah Pearce, says: “Mu­sic is ef­fec­tive in pain re­lief as it has the abil­ity to re­lax the mind and body. Re­cently, a client of mine was anx­ious and wor­ried about hav­ing a tooth ex­trac­tion. We worked to­gether to find a suit­able piece of mu­sic she could lis­ten to be­fore­hand.”

HIGH NOTE: From the Mozart ef­fect to gym playlists, mu­sic can give us all a lift.

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