It’s no secret that music affects your mood; Eye of the Tiger is a guaranteed pump up, and Mozart’s Requiem in D minor can tug at even the toughest heartstrings. We listen to music on a consistent basis all throughout our lives, guiding our emotions and providing us with unparalleled ambiance in particularly sentimental moments. Music has the ability to affect us in remarkable ways, but did you know it also has the power to affect our brains? Here are just a few ways that music can alter our current mental state.

Music affects how we perceive what we’re sensing.

Every second that we’re awake, our brains are handling the thousands of pieces of information that are being received by each of our senses – everything we see, smell, and hear at all moments is being processed and stored in our memory bank. Music affects the lens through which we process these One experiment showed that, depending on whether we’re listening to happy or sad music, we’re more likely to see faces at a neutral expression as either happy or sad, accordingly. By affecting our mood, music also affects our memory, causing us to remember events as positive or negative, depending on our moods at the time.

Music calms us down.

Back in 2004, a few of the railways in Britain started playing various recordings of classical composers like Bach, Handel, and Mozart throughout their stations. This change cause a 33% drop in the amount of crime seen in those stations with travelers also reporting that they felt safer traveling throughout those stations.

Music can help us heal.

Dr. Claudius Conrad is a lifelong musician turned surgeon who swears by the power of music in his operating room. He’s played the piano since he was 5 years old, and sees medicine and music as two intertwining beings, using Mozart to help him focus while he operates. Dr. Conrad says that “in surgery, you do something that is comparable to a concert, and like in a concert situation, in surgery you want to do the most beautiful work you can under the most stress.” While attending medical school back in 2007, Dr. Conrad performed a study in which he successfully demonstrated that playing music (in this case, movements from Mozart’s piano sonatas) greatly reduced the amount of sedative drug that was needed to reach levels of sedation that were comparable to control groups. While listening to music, the test subjects also experienced a drop in their stress levels, blood pressure, and heart rate. What’s even more remarkable is that the patients who listened to music also experienced a release of 50% more pituitary growth hormone which helps to reduce inflammation and encourage healing.  

My personal favorites for jump starting a glorious day with early morning happy dancing are “Happy” by Pharrell Williams and “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars.  Follow these with “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift and “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson, and you are ready to greet the world with love and joy in just being alive!