- Term Papers and Free Essays

The Relationship Between Mind, Music, And Behavior

Essay by   •  November 15, 2010  •  1,710 Words (7 Pages)  •  2,173 Views

Essay Preview: The Relationship Between Mind, Music, And Behavior

Report this essay
Page 1 of 7

The Relationship between Mind, Music, and Behavior

The main purpose of the paper is to investigate and present the relationship between the mind, music, and human behavior. For this purpose, research is presented on previous works and studies that link music with the mind. Based on this research, music increases neurotransmitter levels. Soft or mellow music has a tendency to promote tranquillity, while music with tempo sometimes distracts. Human memories can be cued by music, and music can promote improved learning.

The brain is a two and a quarter pound piece of living organic tissue that controls the human nervous system. Music is a collection of sound waves that propagate through the air, and has varying frequencies and tones following a discernible order. Yet we all recognize the significance of the brain beyond its physical function. Our minds are the essence of what we are. The brain enigmatically stores memories, and lets people experience such things as emotion, sensations, and thoughts. In the same sense, music is more than just a collection of vibrations. This leads to the question of how does music affect the mind, and in addition, how does music affect human behavior? The reader might ask why such a question should be relevant. If more is known about the psychological and neurophysiological effects of music on the human mind, then the possibilities of this knowledge are unbounded. Music can be used to treat social and behavioral problems in people with disabilities. The use of music in the classroom might enhance or weaken a student's work characteristics. Therefore, whether the influence of music is positive or negative, much needs to be explored about the link between the mind and music.

Physiologically, the brain receives information about sound waves from the ear through the auditory nerve. This information is then processed by the brain and analyzed for the juxtaposition of melody and rhythm. The mixture of melody and rhythm is what we commonly refer to as music. However, our minds interpret this auditory information as more than just sound signals; somehow, we are able to differentiate between certain types of music, and develop preferences for these different types. Yet, what are the ways in which the effects of music manifest themselves?

First, there are particular biochemical responses in the human body to music. Research shows that college students, when listening to music, have more galvanic skin response peaks, as opposed to when they were not listening to music. This research also indicates a significant decrease of norepinephrine levels in students while they listen to "preferred" music. Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter that arbitrates chemical communication in the sympathetic nervous system of the human body. The release of this neurotransmitter, as a consequence of a function of the brain, results in an increased heart rate and heightened blood pressure. Therefore, the decrease of norepinephrine in these college students results in a more "relaxed" state. This could suggest that favored or pleasant music somehow affects the mind, resulting in the relaxing of the body. Another research project, undertaken at the Tokyo Institute of Psychiatry, focuses on the effects of music on the mind using electroencephalograms (EEG). An electroencephalograph is a medical instrument that is capable of showing the electrical activity of the brain by measuring electrical potentials on the scalp. In this experiment, volunteers were exposed to silence, music, white noise (simulated hiss), and then silence. The result of this experiment coincides with the previous findings. The volunteers all reported feeling a calming sensation. However, the researches did not attribute the lowered tension to reduced neurotransmitter levels. While listening to music, "many of the subjects reported that they felt pleasantly relaxed or comfortable... Music may evoke more organized mental activities which result in subjectively comfortable feelings." The white noise in the experiment produced an even greater effect; the volunteers were so relaxed that many felt drowsy and soporific. This sleepy effect can be explained by the monotonous characteristics of white noise, in contrast to the variations in tone and melody of normal music. Furthermore, the researchers found, based on the EEGs, that while listening to music, the volunteers maintained a higher consciousness than when they were exposed to silence or white noise. What this experiment shows is that there is a change in the mental state of people while listening to music; that is, music has certain psychophysiological effects on humans.

Along with these psychophysiological effects, music has an impact on memory as well. In one experiment, words were presented to test subjects, while either classical music, jazz music, or no music played in the background. When the test subjects were asked to repeat the words a few days later, either the same music or a different background was present. The researcher noticed a "facilitative effect of providing the same [musical] context." Similar research has been done on CDM. CDM stands for context-dependent memory, which is the principle that "changing the context or environment in which material was originally learned causes some of that material to be forgotten." A group of scientists tested college undergraduates by asking the students to rate the pleasantness of a sequence of words, while they listened to a certain type of music. Afterwards, they were asked to recall these words. The results indicate that the students were able to recall the sequence more successfully if the same musical piece was playing. Furthermore, the researchers found that if the music played during the recall had a different tempo than the original music, then there was a lowered ability to recall the words. These results are also supported by a supplementary investigation, where it was shown that a musical piece can facilitate learning and recall. Perhaps a common manifestation of this phenomenon is when you remember the jingles in commercials. A test conducted at the University of Washington demonstrated that brand names were more easily recalled when they were presented in the form of a musical tune, instead of just spoken. Hence, this is a consistent example of one relationship between music and memory.

Now that



Download as:   txt (10.5 Kb)   pdf (120.5 Kb)   docx (12.3 Kb)  
Continue for 6 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2010, 11). The Relationship Between Mind, Music, And Behavior. Retrieved 11, 2010, from

"The Relationship Between Mind, Music, And Behavior" 11 2010. 2010. 11 2010 <>.

"The Relationship Between Mind, Music, And Behavior.", 11 2010. Web. 11 2010. <>.

"The Relationship Between Mind, Music, And Behavior." 11, 2010. Accessed 11, 2010.