A soft melody, a constant rhythm or loud music all have an effect on our brain.
Human beings are naturally predisposed to it, to create it and to enjoy it. Although it is a field still open for study, the manifestations of music in our nervous system attract more and more experts willing to do so. But the most fascinating thing is probably the incredible effects that music can have on children.
According to the most recent studies, music can directly help cognitive development, prevent various diseases, even the ones originated in the brain.
Music, mind and heart
Human beings are all brains, therefore, music affects our entire body.
Roughly speaking, each musical aspect, tone, rhythm can activate different parts of the brain. As a whole, music affects everything from the outer cortex to the innermost basal ganglia of our brain.
This stimulation involves further development of our neurons and the release of certain "reward" substances such as dopamine. It also involves the revival of memories or the development of speech.
Our heart, for example, is automatically modulated according to the rhythms we are listening to. Slower, quieter rhythms are the signal for the rest of the body to relax. Likewise, when a rhythm becomes frantic, the brain, fed back, sends signals so that the body is tense and ready. In short, music, mind and heart is an indivisible trio that influences our mood, our sense of satisfaction and our cognitive abilities.
Furthermore, in our research, we found that the effects of music are especially interesting in the early stages of life. We believe, with good reason, that unborn babies are capable of listening to music even inside their mother's tummy. And this has wonderful implications.
Babies are able to react earlier to music even than to verbal language and sounds created by parents. This is probably due to that brain predisposition to pick up on musical patterns. But what physiological effect does it have?
A recent study shows that listening to and making music at an early age (between the ages of three and five) improves neural connections and strengthens brain circuits. This reinforcement is noted in the interconnection between the cerebral hemispheres and, especially, in the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in the planning of cognitively complex behaviors, in the expression of personality, in the decision-making processes and in the adequacy of the social behavior at all times.
This could be due to the need to perform complex tasks: Listening, computing, creating, using fine motor skills, interpreting signals and more.
When children attend music concerts or take music lessons, they have to perform a series of tasks that involve hearing, understanding, manipulating, feeling, or even social skills. These seem to activate different areas that may need to create more connections with each other because of the stimuli that run through the brain.
Music for disease prevention
Another hypothesis refers to several diseases such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or Autism (ASD). These pathologies are marked by some cerebral characteristics such as the low neuronal connection between certain parts of the brain. Sometimes these disorders appear during the child's development. Thus, several experts believe that strengthening the neural connection between these parts could better help children cope with their environment. However, we must clarify that we still do not understand enough the reason for these neurological conditions, so we don't know for sure if the effects of music would serve as a therapy or just an aid.
Overall, music stimulation in children appears to be extremely beneficial. In general, it visibly reduces pain and stress. Perhaps claiming that it serves as a "vaccine" against diseases of this nature is an exaggeration but it is clear that it won't have negative effects; in any case, only positive ones. And, as we discover every day, the effects of music are still mysterious, full of surprises and, of course, wonderful.