The Impact Of Music To Brain

You have probably already noticed that you can strengthen or soften your mood with just that one song.

The connecting factor

It is the power of music that almost all of us experience on a daily basis. When we listen to music, we are immersed in it. After a stressful day, for example, I can relax with a nice ballad. According to scientific research by neuropsychologist Erik Scherder, among others, this is because music ensures that the production of stress hormones is inhibited. If you are interested, visit drifters season 2.

Healing effect of music

Giel worked in healthcare for thirty years, where he saw impressive examples every day of the beneficial effect of music on our mood, brain, and health.

Your whole brain participates

Music touches us more than anything else. I notice it almost every day and it starts right after I get up. Go, radio on, preferably with a few nice energetic tunes, so that I am immediately ‘on’. According to Pim Giel – who spoke to music scientists and music therapists for his documentaries – music has such a great effect on us because it activates our entire brain. “If you like music
listen, it triggers something in different areas of your brain. That is also the reason that music can contribute to relief or even recovery in all kinds of disabilities.

Dance together

Apparently, we have something through which music can touch us: our ‘musicality’. And we all have them, says Henkjan Honing, professor of music cognition at the University of Amsterdam. He conducts research into what exactly it is or could be, and investigates to what extent we share our musicality with other animals. “Compare it with capacity for language,” Honing explains. “You grow up in a certain culture where you have one language, but in principle, you can learn any language you want. In the case of musicality, we all have a talent for listening.


So there is no scientific proof yet, but there are all kinds of ideas about how musicality works. There is a nice evolutionary explanation: it is mainly intended for binding groups. “Compared to other primates, we as humans live in very large groups,” explains Honing. “Unlike monkeys, for example, we can’t flea everyone, so there has to be another way to keep everyone together. Music seems to have taken over that role.

Lucky maker

The fact that music has a very old function is shown by the fact that listening to music causes the production of endorphins, oxytocin, and dopamine. These hormones and neurotransmitters together form the main happiness makers of our brain. They make sure that I – and many with me – can feel so happy, carefree, and cheerful when I listen to certain music. They are also released, for example, when you are having a nice meal or having sex.

Unexpected twists

“It’s like there’s a special connection in our brain that makes us rejoice at musical events,” says Honing. “With which music that happens, is different for everyone because every person has different associations. However, many people get shivers from something unexpected. A good example is a song Isobel by Björk, which has a strange twist. The songs by Marco Borsato are also classic, who always sings a half note higher at the end. You know that trick is coming, but still, a lot of people love it. In dance music you often have a ‘drop’: it suddenly becomes quiet and then the build-up follows. The tension is increasing, which also yields a reward.”

Access to your insides

I also notice that the impact of music is greater when I really open up to it. If I really listen to what I hear, instead of having it as background wallpaper. Lean back in my chair, immerse yourself in the sounds, feel the emotions. “That effect is also often present during funerals, where classical music is often played,” says Belgian music psychologist Mark Reybrouck, professor at the Faculty of Arts at KU Leuven.


Funnily enough, the songs that trigger the most in many people go back to infancy. Reybrouck: “Over the years, our musical taste is greatly influenced by what we see and hear in our environment. Certain trends, cultural preferences. As a baby, you don’t know all this yet, which is why lullabies are similar almost everywhere in the world. They are quiet sounds, with little stories in between, and a certain rhythm.

Another person

So it is not at all surprising that recently I suddenly had tears in my eyes when She Believes in Me by André Hazes came by on the radio. I don’t really consider myself a fan of that genre, but this song came in for a while. Apparently, it unconsciously reminded me of something from the past or did something to my ability for musicality.