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  • Emily Sung

Music In The Mind

Updated: Dec 11, 2021

By EMILY SUNG


Hans Christian Andersen once said, “where words fail, music speaks.” The beauty of music is certainly undeniable: it can range from calming to energizing depending on the listener, and it is practically impossible to cross the streets of Seoul without catching a note of the most recent smash hit. Music holds such a well-established place in the hearts of many that some take music for granted, not being able to recognize the profound role music plays in our daily lives. Behind the scenes of our brains, however, simply listening to one’s favorite track alone aids the body in a plethora of different ways that people are not aware of. Music, albeit unknowingly, has the power to heal and transform.


Biologically, music triggers the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine; when released, one feels rewarded, producing effects equivalent to that of eating delicious food. According to Harvard University’s Medical School, this dopamine release causes a myriad of other effects, such as an increase in overall cognitive ability, especially spatial-temporal reasoning. Named the “Mozart effect,” music enhances the firing of neurons in the sector of the brain responsible for higher functions, thus warming brain cells up for current or later activity. Many medical officials and psychiatrists contend that music and medicine are closely linked, hence the reason why music is so widely enjoyed among medical staff. [MOU1] Biological impacts are also swayed by the genre of music; for instance, pop music enhances physical performance while classical music supports learning and memory. Music acts as an unknown doctor to the mind, comforting and calming those in need and boosting energy for others at the same time.


Emotionally, music and mood are also closely intertwined. Regardless of the genre, music is able to shift one from a certain mental state to another with just a few chords. From triggering an urge to dance to the beat, a nostalgic memory from the past, or a desire to sing along, music incites diverse responses among its listeners. This targeted mood-based response is increasingly becoming one of the points of focus during process of producing music, as both composers and singers are starting to realize that music acts as a mechanism for switching to and from certain emotions. Happier music does not only affect mood in the short term, but can also have long-lasting effects and changes as well. It is statistically proven that people who have listened to more cheerful music for a span of a few weeks report to have enhanced moods and emotions for a longer period of time. This proves why music is largely employed in therapy or mental healing—not only the stereotypical calm tunes, but everyday pop songs as well.


As members of the generation that has the most exposure to music spanning across different genres, nations, and platforms, the importance of it must be acknowledged. Music should be entertained in daily life as a valuable resource, not to be taken for granted. After all, I would not have been able to finish this piece as easily without the two earphones in my ears right now.

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