Exploring the profound impact of music on brain waves

The profound effect of music on the brain waves

Music has been present throughout human history, spanning all cultures and epochs. The variation is breathtaking – everything from traditional Aboriginal music performed on clapsticks and didgeridoos, to Yo-Yo Ma’s sublime rendition of Bach’s Cello Suite, or Taylor Swift’s outstanding live performances in the Eras Tour. 

Music is said to influence many things – relationships and social connection, plant growth and maths performance. So, how does music affect the brain? 


Music and the brain

Music has numerous effects on brain function and behaviour, including: 

  • Reducing stress
  • Relieving pain
  • Easing depression
  • Improving cognitive and motor skills
  • Encouraging the brain to produce neurons. 


Music stimulates

  • The temporal lobe – music and sounds are interpreted in the right hemisphere while lyrics are interpreted in the left 
  • Wernicke’s area – this part of the brain helps you analyse and enjoy music
  • The occipital lobe – professional musicians use this part of the brain to visualise music, even when they’re listening rather than playing
  • The cerebellum – this stores physical memory and is why you might still be able to play Three Blind Mice on the recorder and why an Alzheimer’s patient who used to play the piano may still remember how to do so
  • The nucleus accumbens – the brain’s pleasure centre releases dopamine in response to music
  • The amygdala – this tiny area processes and triggers emotions, which explains why music may calm you down or rev you up
  • The hippocampus – music may encourage the production of new neurons, aiding memory
  • The hypothalamus – this regulates your hormones and nervous system, explaining why your heart rate and blood pressure may reduce when you listen to the right music
  • The corpus callosum – this enables communication between the left and right sides of the brain so musicians can coordinate movements
  • The putamen – this processes rhythm, regulates movements and enables coordination. It explains why rhythmic music can help Parkinson’s patients to move more easily. 


Music for brain stimulation

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the right music for brain stimulation. 

Music you’re already familiar with activates brain regions responsible for movement. With familiar music, you can anticipate what’s coming next, sing along and even dance. Familiar music may decrease stress hormones like cortisol, enabling you to focus more clearly. 

If you’re listening to background music while you work or study, then avoid anything too soft and slow or too loud in its style (whether the tempo is fast or slow). The sweet spot is ‘soft-fast’ songs like: 


A workout for the brain

If listening to music is good for you, playing it may be even better. It’s a complicated task that engages many areas of the brain. 

A musician’s job is essentially to translate black-and-white symbols into pleasant sounds. That involves

  • Processing visual and auditory informatio
  • Fine motor skills to play an instrument
  • Keeping time using internal rhythm and mathematical precision
  • Coordinating with other performers
  • Feeling and conveying emotion. 


Music for Parkinson’s disease

As the Michael J Fox Foundation reports, music draws us into its rhythm. For Parkinson’s patients, music can help to: 

  • Calm a resting tremor
  • Break a freezing spell
  • Bring gait into a more normal pattern. 


How can Neurofit Brain Centre help? 

At Neurofit, we use techniques like the acoustic metronome and acoustic therapy to help retrain your brain. 

We believe that brain activity makes an active difference. Please book an assessment today. 



All information is general and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Neurofit Brain Centre can consult with you to confirm if a particular treatment approach is right for you.