Research indicates that music stimulates emotions through specific circuits in the brain. These key areas are the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and the parietal lobe. We can easily see how music and the brain engage mood and emotion when a child smiles and begins to dance to a rhythm. The child is experiencing feelings of joy from the music. We also see this when parent and child connect through a song such as a lullaby.
Music is also a physical experience. One reason for this is a hormone related to bonding called oxytocin. The “cuddle hormone,” as it’s sometimes called, can be released by singing.
Listening to music can create peak emotions, which increase the amount of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is produced in the brain and helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. We often feel emotions are experienced from our heart, but an enormous part of emotional stimulus is communicated through the brain.
Our newfound understanding of how music affects the brain and heart is leading to innovative ways to utilize music and the brain to create emotional understanding between people. Music can evoke the deepest emotions in people and help us process fear, grief, sadness, and resentment, even if these emotions are held on a subconscious level.
For thousands of years, chanting has been a form of music that has been used as a vehicle to form a deeper spiritual connection in the brain and mood. This is especially true of the sound “Om”, which is said to contain every sound in the universe within it. As we chant Om, we can release mind chatter through music and our focus shifts to a deeper spiritual connection. But chanting also benefits people’s physical body as well as their spiritual one.
Music does not only change your present feelings; it can alter your future mood as well. Even if you close Spotify, the music that you just listened to can significantly change your brain waves for the hours or even days to come.