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Surprising Ways Music Affects Our Brains

Millions of us the world over love music, and will listen to it, no matter what we’re doing. Working, travelling, relaxing- music is a massive part of people’s lives. In addition to our conscious love of music, our brains react in a number of ways without us realising. Here are some of the most interesting responses we have when we listen to music.

How we perceive neutral faces is affected by the mood of our music

Our brains are brilliant at responding to both happy and sad music. Studies have found that when we listen to music and then see a neutral face, our brains register that face as matching the type of music we’re listening to.

Our brains also allow us to experience two ways to feel emotion: felt emotions and perceived emotions. Perceived emotions allow us to understand an emotion without feeling it ourselves, which is why some people will happily listen to sad music. Music essentially allows us to vicariously experience emotion.

Improve your creativity with ambient noise

To do lists can be finished in what seems like an instant with powerful music, but when you need to think creatively, ambient music at a moderate volume is the best way to go. Ambient music at a moderate level works through increasing your processing difficulty, which encourages abstract thinking, resulting in higher levels of creativity.

Think of this being similar to how temperature and lighting can affect creativity. You may also find background noise helps you to concentrate due to the same process.

Predict someone’s personality from their music taste

There is research published that suggests you can accurately predict someone’s personality by looking at their favourite 10 songs. Studies have looked at five traits including agreeableness, extraversion, openness to experience, emotional stability and conscientiousness.

Of all the traits, emotional stability, openness to experience and extraversion were the easiest to predict and most likely to be true.

Contrary to popular belief, music can distract you whilst driving

When played music chosen by themselves, compared to music played by researchers, drivers were significantly more distracted. The really interesting part of the study, however, was that the music chosen by researchers was safer than no music at all. Whilst more research in this area needs to be done, it could be that uninteresting or unfamiliar music benefits driving.

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