Revisiting the Mozart Effect and Other Music Benefits

music-in-action-1439016-mNew studies breathe new life into the Mozart Effect…

The ‘Mozart Effect’ was a phenomenon first suggested by a scientific study published in the journal Science in 1993. The study, involving 36 students, demonstrated that teenagers who listened to Mozart’s 1781 Sonata for Two Pianos in D major performed better in reasoning tests than adolescents who listened to something else or who had been in a silent room. Although the Mozart Effect has been largely debunked as a myth since the publication of that study, newer research continue to demonstrate the undeniable effect that music has on the brain…

‘Mozart effect': can classical music really make your baby smarter?

  • Music seems to prime our brains for certain kinds of thinking, like spatial tasks because it turns on those pathways in the brain.
  • Listening to music has a temporary effect, while learning to play an instrument creates longer-lasting effects because it creates new pathways in the brain.
  • Why Classical music? Because it has a more complex musical structure

See also: Babies can remember what they hear in the womb

Classical Music affects Genes Vital to Memory and Learning

In a study by Kanduri et al., 2015, 20 minutes of Mozart:

  • enhances the activity of genes involved in synaptic neurotransmission and dopamine secretion, both of which are important to memory and learning.
  • reduces the activity of genes involved in neurodegeneration

Music has the ability to enhance memory, cognitive performance and development, and emotions. The downside is that these effects were only seen in musically experienced people – another reason to learn a musical instrument…

Music’s Amazing Effect on Long-Term Memory and Mental Abilities In General

  • Professional musicians have superior long-term memory and are capable of much faster neural responses in key areas of the brain related to decision-making, memory and attention.

Bottom line:

  • Listen to music! Classical music is best.
  • If you want to train your brain, learn a musical instrument.

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Enhancing the Body with a Well-Trained Mind

In recent times, we have read a lot about the mind-body connection where movement of the body is connected to development of the brain. This connection is so deeply entwined that the converse is also true – where training the mind can affect the body. Sports professionals know the importance of mental discipline and having a well-trained mind and how it can affect their performance. Now, we are discovering that this connection goes even deeper…

Changing Our DNA through Mind Control? – Scientific American

Despite the rather gimmicky title, this article from Scientific American discusses a study demonstrating the effects of yoga and mindfulness meditation on our genes. Such activities have been associated with preserved telomere length. While the actual benefits of preserving telomere length isn’t known, it does seem suggestive that this is a good thing.

“Telomeres are stretches of DNA that cap our chromosomes and help prevent chromosomal deterioration — biology professors often liken them to the plastic tips on shoelaces. Shortened telomeres aren’t known to cause a specific disease per se, but they do whither with age and are shorter in people with cancer, diabetes, heart disease and high stress levels. We want our telomeres intact.”

3 Ways Your Mind Can Give You A Healthier Heart – Psyblog

According to research findings, individuals with heart problems could reduce their cardiac risk by:

  1. Being grateful – which helps patients recover from heart failure
  2. Being optimistic because people have healthier hearts
  3. Having a strong sense of purpose which may also lower heart disease risk

Meditation boosts genes that promote good health – New Scientist

We’ve heard about how meditation changes the brain, now a new study demonstrates that gene activity changes too:

After eight weeks of performing the technique daily, the volunteers gene profile was analysed again. Clusters of important beneficial genes had become more active and harmful ones less so.

The boosted genes had three main beneficial effects: improving the efficiency of mitochondria, the powerhouse of cells; boosting insulin production, which improves control of blood sugar; and preventing the depletion of telomeres, caps on chromosomes that help to keep DNA stable and so prevent cells wearing out and ageing.

Clusters of genes that became less active were those governed by a master gene called NF-kappaB, which triggers chronic inflammation leading to diseases including high blood pressure, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease and some cancers.

Mind over matter: Can you think your way to strength? – Science Daily

Apparently, you can… A study from the Ohio Musculoskeletal and Neurological Institute (OMNI) at Ohio University revealed that mental imagery may be key in reducing the associated muscle loss for individuals with wrist-hand immobilisation due to injury.

Study Summary:

  • Control group – no cast, no treatment
  • Group 1 – cast immobilising wrist and hand, performing mental imagery exercises
  • Group 2 – cast immobilising wrist and hand, no mental imagery exercises
  • Findings: the group that performed mental imagery exercises lost 50% less strength than the non-imaginative group. The nervous system’s ability to fully activate the muscle (called “voluntary activation” or VA) also rebounded more quickly in the imagery group compared to the non-imagery group.

For many, sports injuries are often associated with loss of muscle strength while in recovery. These findings suggest that mental imagery exercises can help reduce that loss.

TheMindIsEverything

These are just some of the ways that the mind can affect the body. It will be interesting to see how far we can harness the mind to enhance the body’s potential.

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What is Mindfulness Meditation?

Stumbled on this wonderful infographic from Health Central that offers a great overview of mindfulness…

Mindfulness

Image Source: Health Central

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