MONDAY BYTES — July 21, 2014
One of the amazing things about music is that it bypasses our thought process and our language functions, and acts immediately on our nervous system, the way a narcotic does.
Music affects brain chemistry: it produces dopamine, the same pleasure producing agent that cocaine activates (although in different amounts).
Music also lowers cortisol, the stress hormone. Studies have found that people who listen to music before surgery actually need less anesthesia. And music releases serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of euphoria and contentment.
There’s more. Studies have shown that singing in groups produces a “singer’s high,” a blast of oxytocin which manages stress and anxiety and produces feelings of bonding and trust.
And researchers have found that regularly engaging in group music activities conspicuously advances children’s empathy development, increasing a child’s capacity to recognize and consider the feelings of others.
Why humans have evolved to respond this way to music? Consider the biological imperative: in order to survive, humans need to be able to work and live together in communities.
Making music together is a fast track to empathy. And empathy is the basic building block of community.
So don’t EVER let anyone tell you that music—and the work that you do—isn’t important!
This week: Please write back with any stories about music and its drug-like effects (no questions asked!)
As always, I welcome hearing your thoughts and feedback!
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