It turns out that music can do more than making you dance like a fool or allow you to drown out the world when you need to. It has a scientific uses too!
The documentary Alive Inside details how dementia patients react positively when given iPods filled with their old favorite songs. It was observed that while the patients are listening to songs they can sing along, they are able to answer questions about their past. Their social involvement such as, having brief conversations with others, also improved.
“Music imprints itself on the brain deeper than any other human experience,” says neurologist Oliver Sacks, who appears in the film. “Music evokes emotion, and emotion can bring with it memory.”
Recent studies also show that music can improve the memories of dementia patients, and even help them develop new memories.
In this article we listed 11 other things music can “cure”.
1. LOW BIRTH WEIGHT
Premature babies usually require longer stays in the hospital to help them gain weight and strength. To facilitate this process many hospital have relied to music.
A team of Canadian researchers found that playing music to premature infants encouraged better feeding habits and reduced their pain levels. It also significantly reduces the amount of energy they expend, which allows them gain weight. Hospitals use musical instruments to mimic the sounds of a mother’s heartbeat and womb to lull premature babies to sleep. They also play calming instrumental music.
It “makes you wonder whether neonatal intensive care units should consider music exposure as standard practice for at-risk infants,” says Dr. Nestor Lopez-Duran
2. DROOPY PLANTS
Dorothy Retallack claims that music can help plants grow. On her book called The Sound of Music and Plants, she detailed the effects of music on plant growth. Retallack played rock music to one group of plants and calming music to another similar group. Her study show that the plants exposed to calming music were uniform in size, full and green, and were even leaning toward the source of the music. While those who were exposed to rock music were droopy, have faded leaves, and were leaning away from the radio.
3. THE DAMAGING EFFECTS OF BRAIN DAMAGE
1.5 million Americans sustain brain damage each year, while 90,000 of them will be left with a long-term movement or speech disability. Many researchers have relied to music to stimulate the areas of the brain as part of the treatment.
People with neurological damage caused by stroke or Parkinson’s disease regain a symmetrical stride and a sense of balance when given a rhythm to dance or walk.
It is because the beats in music help serve as a footstep cue for the brain. Similar study was done on autistic children who couldn’t speak. They found out that music therapy helped these children articulate words. It turns out that rhythm and pitch can help patients sing what words they can’t say.
“We are just starting to understand how powerful music can be. We don’t know what the limits are.” says Michael De Georgia, director of the Center for Music and Medicine at Case Western Reserve University’s University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland.
4. TEEN LOITERING
Teenagers typically don’t like classical music. In fact, they dislike it so much that “it sends them scurrying away like frightened mice,” says the LA Times.
When the brain hears something it dislikes, it suppresses dopamine – the pleasure chemical. As a reaction, teenagers go elsewhere to find something to bring it back up.
No wonder why they always play upbeat songs in malls.
5. HEARING LOSS
Although music cannot cure hearing loss, it can prevent it.
163 adults, 74 of them lifelong musicians, had taken a series of hearing tests to check the advantage of music to the ears. The study shows that musicians processed sound better than non-musicians, with the gap widening with age.
“A 70-year-old musician understood speech in a noisy environment as well as a 50-year-old non-musician,” explains Linda Searling at the Washington Post.
6. A BROKEN HEART
Not the kind caused by rejection, but the kind caused by a heart attack.
Research says music can help in lowering blood pressure, slowing the heart rate and reducing anxiety of patients who suffered from heart attack. It is because listening to songs that induce a sense of joy causes increased circulation and expanded blood vessels, which encourages good vascular health.
7. POOR SPORT PERFORMANCE
A UK Study shows that listening to music during sports training can boost athletic performance by up to 20 percent. That’s roughly equivalent to what athletes get from illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
The study also suggests music in fast tempo during intense training and slower songs during cool down.
In 2009, a study suggests that learning music can boosts reading abilities.
The study compared two groups of second graders from similar demographics. One learned music notation, sight-reading and other skills, while the other group did not. Both of the group was tested for literacy before and after the school year. At the end of the year, the kids with a music education scored “significantly higher,” especially on vocabulary tests, compared to the kids who did not have music education.
9. WINE SNOBBERY
A group of researchers say certain types of music can “enhance” the way wine tastes by up to 60 percent.
In a study, wine-drinkers rated white wine as 40 % more refreshing when it was accompanied by “zingy and refreshing” music (“Just Can’t Get Enough” by Nouvelle Vague was their go-to zingy song). The taste of red wine was altered 60 % by “powerful and heavy music” like Orff’s “Carmina Burana.”
“The tongue is easy to dupe.” says Jonah Lehrer at Wired.