Music. Such a simple word that covers so much. Everyone, with perhaps a very few exceptions, likes one form of music or another. From Ska to Country, Death Metal to Classical, even humming off-key and singing in the shower, there is something out there for every musical taste. It soothes our souls, lifts our spirits and makes us move (badly in my case). However, there are more scientific studies that are showing that music can have a bigger medical benefit than many of us have considered before.
Have you ever heard a piece of music that causes your brain or scalp to “tingle”? This is called Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response or ASMR. It is triggered when you listen to a piece of music that really resonates with you. In an article in The Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease, a study showed that the part of the brain responsible for ASMR does not get lost to the confusion of Alzheimer’s. This means that music can sometimes, temporarily, bring someone suffering from this disease back to some semblance of normalcy when they hear a song that they really connected with.
Now, before you think that I’m weirder than I really am, I don’t have a habit of reading medical journals on even an infrequent basis, but I did have a link to an article that referenced this study pop up in my social media feed. Another such article states that doctors are prescribing music therapy to patients with heart ailments, learning disabilities, brain dysfunction, depression, PTSD and more. The Cardiovascular Society of Great Britain states that listening to music with a repetitive rhythm can decrease blood pressure and reduce heart rate.
It’s not surprising that the right type of music can help someone suffering from depression (stay away from those sad country songs) by increasing dopamine levels. Dopamine is the feel-good hormone produced in the brain. Even the NAMM Foundation has a comprehensive list of benefits that can be gained by playing music, such as reducing stress.
There are even studies that show that adults who play music regularly have higher levels of Human Growth Hormone that is necessary for regulating body composition, body fluids, muscle and bone growth, sugar and fat metabolism and possibly heart function. I even saw a TED talk on YouTube not too long ago, that talked about the benefits of playing an instrument, on the brain.
It’s beginning to sound like I need to develop the next big thing in dieting, The Music Diet. Not only does it help balance out hormones and make you feel better, it can help with metabolism and everything else that other diets neglect. So, grab your Teton guitar or instrument of choice and boost your immune system and brain by playing some music!
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Block, AJ. Doctors Now Prescribing Music Therapy for Heart Ailments, Brain Dysfunction, Learning Disabilities, Depression, PTSD, Alzheimers, Childhood Development, and More. March 10, 2016. https://didgeproject.com/therapeutics/doctors-now-prescribing-music-for-heart-ailments-brain-dysfunction-learning-disabilities-depression-ptsd-alzheimers-and-more/
Dymoke, N. Study: Memories of music cannot be lost to Alzheimer’s and dementia. April 29, 2018. https://bigthink.com/news/ever-get-the-tingles-from-listening-to-good-music-that-part-of-your-brain-will-never-get-lost-to-alzheimersCollins, A. How playing an instrument benefits your brain. July 22, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0JKCYZ8hng