Music and Its Effect on The Brain in Various Situations

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3 pages /

1532 words

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3 pages /

1532 words

Downloads: 67

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Table of contents

  1. Music and the communication in the operating theatre
  2. Music, communication, relationship: A dual practitioner perspective from music therapy/speech and language therapy
  3. Music and the brain: the neuroscience of music and musical appreciation

I have decided to explore the connection music has with the brain and its affects it has on communication in varied environments. In identifying this connection, I wanted to explore this connection in different instances so I could identify any positive or negative effects it had on the brains ability to process information and communicate effectively.

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My research is varied, as it converges into the fields of music, music therapy, psychology and neuroscience. These overlaps provide a broad insight into the connection I am trying to identify throughout this paper.

Music plays a huge role in my life and has managed to give me a unique outlet of expression, while providing me with the ability to communicate, not only through words, but through notes and melodies as well. I have found that playing music is a very communicative art, as individual expression is prevalent throughout the playing of an instrument. I personally have always suspected there being a correlation between music and the brain, however, with this gathering of research I would like to further my understanding of that connection.

Music and the communication in the operating theatre

This study observed the use of music playing in the operating theatre and the influence it had on communication between surgeons and supporting staff. It was found that music had already had an existing place in the operating theatre however was originally used as an “anxiety-relieving measure for patients under-going anesthesia” (Weldon et al. 2015, p. 2764). Weldon et al. (p. 2764) includes a recommended noise level provided by The World Health Organisation, and states that these levels were already being exceeded in the operating theatre, not only by music, but of “talk, instrument and machine noises”. It was stated by Weldon et al. that these standard actions were already exceeding the levels of 30dB that are advised for a safe working environment (2015, p. 2765).

Within the medicine community, there is a divide in the opinion of music being considered as “distractive noise” (Weldon et al. 2015, p. 2765). Weldon (2015, p. 2765) states that there are claims made by medical staff that music can have a “calming impact on teamwork” suggesting it differentiates itself from being distracting, and perhaps could have a positive impact on surgeons working ability because of its “masking white noise and people talking in the theatre” (2015, p. 2765).

In terms of their study however, it was found that music might have an influence on communication in the operating theatre. It appeared that “repeat requests were 5 times likely to occur” when music was playing, indicating that there is a clear disturbance caused by music playing in the operating theatre (Weldon et al. 2015, p.2764). These findings suggest that there is a clear safety issue when it comes to the patients these surgeons are operating on due to the use of music (Weldon et al 2015, p. 2763).

The main limitation of this study was their small sample size. The number of recorded operations was limited.

This study is useful to my research topic because it outlines the negative effects music can have in such crucial settings. I plan to use this research to balance out my outcome of my research.

While some doctors suggest that music assists them in their practice, this study found that there with not only repeat requests, but the repeat requests could add 4-68 seconds to its operation time and could add to a frustrating work environment due to the lack of clear communication (Weldon et al. 2015, p. 2763).

Music, communication, relationship: A dual practitioner perspective from music therapy/speech and language therapy

In contrast to the first study, North uses her dual practitioner role to identify any changes in communication with her patients. Her education shines tremendous light on the credibility she possesses. As a musician, music therapist and speech and language therapist she uses these three occupations to identify the links between music, communication and relationship. She constantly reflects on her position as a dual practitioner and attempts to use her perspective from both roles in relation to her patients and their progress of how they communicate with the assistance of music and speech therapy.

Her initial considerations are those of understanding her patient, and allowing her musical details (notes, melodies, rhythm, volume) to evoke a response, regardless of whether it be spoken word, or body language. She recognizes how important music is to her line of work, and allowing for that to promote her patient’s vocalizations.

In one of her findings, she engages with a group of five women, each having severe learning disabilities, and all being non-verbal (North 2014, p.80). All these women were found to vocalize however, when they felt excited or upset. North notes the vocalizations experienced by this group of five women, including her piano playing, as this was what this group were mainly responding to.

The results North gathered from her therapy sessions could be seen as subjective, as each individual had different needs in their therapy sessions. However, her reflections of each recorded session she had engaged in, remained to be incredibly insightful, detailing the timing and communication she received from her patients, whether it be verbal or non-verbal.

Throughout her findings, she referred to her reflections with great interest and emotional engagement. She found that we could “use music to make contact with those who find it hard to learn how to communicate” and that this alternative “can provide relief and fulfillment” (North 2014, p. 789). In understanding how the brain responds to music, this study is helpful to my research topic, as it gives insight to how music can facilitate verbal and non-verbal communication in patients that suffer with neurological disorders.

Cerebral mechanisms underlying the effects of music during a fatiguing isometric ankle-dorsiflexion task

The main focus of this study was to monitor and understand the process of attention spans while completing a fatiguing task, with the use of applying music as a potential distraction. The use of music as a distraction was expected to shift their attention on the music instead of the physical task.

It was found that participants generally sustained the task for a longer period of time when music was playing. This study suggests that music could improve an individual’s performing of a task which precipitates physical exhaustion. However, some potential limitations to this study could have been to do with the music choice, as personal preference was not taken into account, and only one song was chosen. That song was ‘Eye of the Tiger’ by Survivor.

Bigliassi et al. had concluded that these “findings indicated that music not only reallocated participants’ attentional focus towards sensory regions but also rearranged the brain activity throughout the exercise”

This study is useful to my research topic because it provides insight into music being a potential distraction, or a potential incentive to improve the task at hand. It revolves around the idea of music acting as a catalyst for increased or decreased involvement in the undertaking of a fatiguing task.

Music and the brain: the neuroscience of music and musical appreciation

Trimble and Hesdorffer discuss the connection between the brain and its response to music in different sub categories. Initially delving into the idea of music being purely evolutionary, they explain the idea of music being a potent aspect in regards to our brain and our species as a whole. In regards to its evolutionary aspect, they spoke about the “greater development of our cognitive attributes” and music having developed through time, with its importance being shifted as time has progressed (2017, p.28).

Trimble and Hesdorffer commend humans as a species for our “evolutionary development” and the “ability to create and respond to music” (2017, p. 29). Trimble and Hesdorffer identify music as being something of a “physiological response” (2017, p. 29). They

Thaut (2005) by explaining the facilitation of music aiding the recovery for patients having suffered a stroke, Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy and traumatic brain injury.

The people suffering with these illnesses had also found a deeper connection with music and also had facilitated improvements in their conditions. It was also “accepted by people with depression and associated with improvements in mood disorders” (p. 30). It was concluded that music was effective, especially for those having diseases attributable to the nervous system. The use of “musical interventions” (p.30) were found to be incredibly cost effective and valuable to those patients receiving such treatment.

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Amongst digesting all of this information, I have gathered that communication and music share a deep connection, and in different regards it is being used knowingly and unknowingly in many different aspects of everyday life, from surgery to therapy. It is used as a tool to heal those suffering with serious illnesses, as well as it being used to ease someone into the completion of a task, such as surgery. As questionable as that particular study revealed, it was clear that the use of music was prevalent within the medicine community. The further investigation into any negative effects music may have on the brain could be beneficial to help us identify problematic behaviour which stimulates mental/physical illness. My previous vague ideas about these connections were only made verifiable from these articles and I understand now that music is an incredibly valuable tool being used, especially in the field of neuroscience.

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Music and Its Effect on the Brain in Various Situations. (2019, April 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 28, 2023, from
“Music and Its Effect on the Brain in Various Situations.” GradesFixer, 10 Apr. 2019,
Music and Its Effect on the Brain in Various Situations. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 28 Sept. 2023].
Music and Its Effect on the Brain in Various Situations [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Apr 10 [cited 2023 Sept 28]. Available from:
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