Using Music to Alter Brain Waves

By Charles Hopkins Published 01/17/2007 | Health

Music has long been regarded as a universal language. People in all walks of life can be moved by any kind of music regardless of language. One can easily discern that music moves people in its rhythm. This rhythm, either in drumbeats or in the harmonic effect of melody, can be likened to the rhythmic words of a poem. In every corner of the world, the love for music is evident: from the famous drumbeats of Africa to the classical heritage of Europe; there is really something in music that transcends the race and language of people.

Scientists have found out that people's brain waves are altered by music. Not long ago, science also discovered that meditation has a profound effect on brain's development. It has been observed that people who focuses their attention to a particular rhythmic stimulus long enough can experience a new level of awareness. It seems that their brain waves move along with the rhythm; the longer they focus on it, the brain waves become more synchronized with the rhythm. This synchronization between the brain and the rhythm gives a different state of arousal to the practitioner.

This phenomenon of music can be seen in everyday life. Why do you think people find themselves sleepy during heavy and long traffic hours, or while listening to playing instruments, or even when hearing the sounds of falling rain on the roof? These activities produce sound, a music of sort, with a rhythmic to the ears and brain.

It's the hypnotic effect of music on people. And this hypnotic effect has many benefits and applications in the medical field. The music of the famous Classical figure Mozart, has also been found to improve certain parts of the brain focused on learning activities. This effect is more known as the Mozart Effect.

Though the effects of music have been found in a number of improvements in such ailments such as insomnia and other sleep disorders, depression etc, the benefits of music in cognitive development is more profound. Meditation has been found to focus on that part of the brain that handles the positive emotions and feelings of a person, music, on the other hand, has been found to improve the cognition of people. From this development, we can learn that there are particular activities that can improve a certain functional part of the brain.

In sum, we can identify one particular key with all these: rhythm. Rhythm has always been part of a successful meditation activity, with such trance patterns such as "om" or "am." Similar to music, rhythm is the most basic part of a song. Even an a Capella will depend on some sort of rhythm or beat. Depending on the rhythm, music can be used to slow-down or speed-up brain wave activity and can be used for therapy of certain psychological disorders. Persons afflicted with Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD can listen to fast rock music to speed-up the activity of the frontal cortex of the brain while a hyperactive child can slow-down when exposed to slow music.