The Mind, Music, and Behavior

abstract

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 comfortableÖ
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