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We can usually pick if a piece of music is particularly happy or sad, but this isn’t just a subjective idea that comes from how it makes us feel. In fact, our brains actually respond differently to happy and sad music.
Even short pieces of happy or sad music can affect us. Onr study showed that after hearing a short piece of music, participants were more likely to interpret a neutral expression as happy or sad, to match the tone of the music they heard. This also happened with other facial expressions, but was most notable for those that were close to neutral. Something else that’s really interesting about how our emotions are effected by music is that there are two kind of emotions related to music: perceived emotions and felt emotions. This means that sometimes we can understand the emotions of a piece of music without actually listening them, which explains why some of us find listening to sad music enjoyable, rather than depressing. Unlike in real life situations, we don’t feel any real threat or danger when listening to music, so we can perceive the related emotions without truly feeling them almost like vicarious emotions.
Secondly, we all like to pump up the tunes when we’re powering through our to-do lists, but when it comes to creative work, loud music may not be the best option. It turns out that a moderate noise level is the sweet spot for creativity. Even more than low noise levels, ambient noise apparently gets our creative juices flowing, and doesn’t put us off the way high levels of noise do. The way this works is that moderate noise levels increase processing difficulty which promotes abstract processing, leading to higher creativity. In other words, when we struggle (just enough) to process things as we normally would, we resort to more creative approaches. In high noise levels, however, our creative thinking is impaired because we’re overwhelmed and struggle to process information efficiently. This is very similar to how temperature and lighting can affect our productivity, where paradoxically a slightly more crowded place can be beneficial.
And in the other hand we all know that, our music choices can predict our personality. In a study of couples who spent time getting to know each other, looking at each other’s top ten favorite songs actually provided fairly reliable predictions as to the listener’s personality traits. The study used five personality traits for the test: openness to experience, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness and emotional stability. Interestingly, some traits were more accurately predicted based on the person’s listening habits than others. For instance, openness to experience, extraversion and emotional stability were the easiest to guess correctly. Conscientiousness, on the other hand, wasn’t obvious based on musicaltaste. The most important to show is even that the music can significantly distract us whiledriving.
Another study done on teenagers and young adults focused on how their driving is affected by music. Drivers were tested while listening to their own choice of music, silence or “safe” music choices provided by the researchers. Of course, their own music was preferred, but it also proved to be more distracting: drivers made more mistakes and drove more aggressively when listening to their own choice of music. Even more surprising: music provided by the researchers proved to be more beneficial than no music at all. It seems that unfamiliar, or uninteresting,music is best for safe driving.
The last but not the least, music training can significantly improve our motor and reasoning skills. We generally assume that learning a musical instrument can be beneficial for kids, but it’s actually useful in more ways than we might expect. One study showed that children who had three years or more musical instrument training performed better than those who didn’t learn an instrument in auditory discrimination abilities and fine motor skills. They also tested better on vocabulary and nonverbal reasoning skills, which involve understanding and analyzing visual information, such as identifying relationships, similarities and differences between shapes and patterns. These two areas in particular are quite removed from musical training as we imagine it, so it’s fascinating to see how learning to play an instrument can help kids develop such a wide variety of important skills.
So as a conclusion, in my opinion, in the same way that exercising makes us happier, it’s not surprising that music adds significantly to our work-out success
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