October 4, 2022

What can music reveal to our minds?

Recent two studies have provided new insights into how our favorite songs relate to our memory and personality and how those connections can make life better.

Listening to a favorite or famous song can immediately “transfer” you to another moment of your life, with amazingly clear details. And it is not just a matter of the developed imagination of the mind, but there is scientific evidence that our minds associate music with memory.

A useful link between music and the treatment of patients with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia

Continuous listening to music that has personal meaning has been found to improve brain adaptation in patients with Alzheimer’s disease at an early stage or with mild cognitive impairment.

Listening to music with special meaning stimulated neural pathways in the brain that helped them maintain a higher level of functioning, says Michael Thaut, one of the authors of a study conducted by researchers from the University of Toronto.

These songs had a unique meaning, like the music with which people danced at their wedding and led to an increase in memory performance in tests. The findings may support the inclusion of music-based therapy in the treatment of patients with cognitive impairment in the future.

The changes were most pronounced in the prefrontal cortex, known as the control center of the brain, where decision-making, social behavior modeling, personality expression, and complex mental behavior planning take place.

Differences in listening to popular music about memories and new music you have never heard

When patients listened to music that was close to them, it empowered a musical neural network that connected different regions of the brain, based on magnetic resonance imaging images recorded before and after listening to music.

This was unlike when they listened to new, unfamiliar music, which stimulated only a certain part of the brain that was tuned to listen.

The study involved 14 participants, including six musicians, and listened to playlists specially prepared for one hour a day for three weeks. But those participants were the same as in a previous study that identified neural mechanisms for storing music-related memories in those who experienced early cognitive decline.

“Whether you are a professional musician or have never played an instrument, music is the key to entering your memory, your prefrontal cortex,” Thaut said in a statement.

He also said that everything is very simple when it comes to music.

“Keep listening to the music you have loved all your life. “Your favorite songs of all time, those parts that are especially important to you, because it’s actually gymnastics for your brain,” Thaut added.

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