The power of music to affect memory is quite intriguing. Baroque and Mozart's music, with a 60 beats per minute beat pattern, activates the left and right parts of the brain. The simultaneous left and right brain action maximizes learning and retention of information. The information being studied activates the left brain while the music activates the right brain. Also, activities which engage both sides of the brain at the same time, such as playing an instrument or singing, cause the brain to be more capable of processing information.
Music activates many regions of the brain, including auditory, motor and limbic (associated with emotions). Such widespread activation of brain explains many beneficial emotional and cognitive music effects.
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Overall, music does have positive effects on pain management. It can help reduce the sensation as well as distress of both chronic pain and postoperative pain.
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Music is good for your heart also. In this case, benefits comenot from music style, but it's tempo. Italian and British researchers recruited young men and women, half of whom were trained musicians. The participants listened to six styles of music in headphones, including rap and classical pieces, with random two-minute pauses. As the participants listened to the music, the researchers monitored their breathing, heart rates and blood pressure. Heart and breathing rates were faster when they listened to lively music. And when the musical slowed, so did their heart and breathing rates. Some results were surprising. During the musical pauses, heart and breathing rates normalized or reached more optimal levels. Whether or not a person liked the style of music did not matter. The tempo, or pace, of the music had the greatest effect on relaxation.
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A large body of evidence supports the principle that cortical and subcortical networks are generated by a genetically programmed initial overabundant production of synaptic connections, which is then followed by an environmentally-driven process of competitive interaction to select those connections that are most effectively entrained to environmental information. This parcellation, the activity-dependent fine tuning of connections and pruning of surplus circuitry, is a central mechanism of the self-organization of the developing brain (Schore, 1994; Chechik, Meilijson, & Ruppin, 1999). It is important to emphasize, however, that environmental experience can either enable or constrain the structure and function of the developing brain. In other words, early interpersonal events positively or negatively impact the structural organization of the brain and its expanding adaptive functional capacities. This clearly implies, in the broadest of terms, a direct relationship between an enabling socioemotional environment, an optimally developing brain, and adaptive infant mental health.
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A major conclusion of the last decade of developmental neuroscience research is that there is now agreement that the infant brain "is designed to be molded by the environment it encounters" (Thomas et al., 1997, p. 209). The brain is thus considered to be a bioenvironmental or biosocial organ (Gibson, 1996), and investigators are now exploring the unique domains of the "social brain" (Brothers, 1990), and the central role of emotions in social communication (Adolphs, 2000). In applying this principle to social-emotional development, the connections between the neurobiological concept of "enriched environment" and the psychological concept of "optimal development" can now be more closely coupled in the psychoneurobiological construct of a "growth-facilitating" (as opposed to "growth-inhibiting") interpersonal environment (Greenspan, 1981; Schore, 1994) that positively (or negatively) effects the experience-dependent maturation of the brain.