The Mind, Music, And Behavior

Sample essay topic, essay writing: The Mind, Music, And Behavior - 1892 words

The Mind, Music, and BehaviorabstractThe main purpose of the paper is to investigate and present the relationshipbetween the mind, music, and human behavior. For this purpose, research ispresented on previous works and studies that link music with the mind. Based onthis research, music increases neurotransmitter levels. Soft or mellow music hasa tendency to promote tranquillity, while music with tempo sometimes distracts. Human memories can be cued by music, and music can promote improved learning. The brain is a two and a quarter pound piece of living organic tissue thatcontrols the human nervous system. Music is a collection of sound waves thatpropagate through the air, and has varying frequencies and tones following adiscernible order.

Yet we all recognize the significance of the brain beyond itsphysical function. Our minds are the essence of what we are. The brainenigmatically stores memories, and lets people experience such things as emotion, sensations, and thoughts. In the same sense, music is more than just acollection of vibrations. This leads to the question of how does music affectthe mind, and in addition, how does music affect human behavior? The readermight ask why such a question should be relevant

If more is known about thepsychological and neurophysiological effects of music on the human mind, thenthe possibilities of this knowledge are unbounded. Music can be used to treatsocial and behavioral problems in people with disabilities. The use of music inthe classroom might enhance or weaken a student's work characteristics. Therefore, whether the influence of music is positive or negative, much needs tobe explored about the link between the mind and music. Physiologically, the brain receives information about sound waves from the earthrough the auditory nerve. This information is then processed by the brain andanalyzed for the juxtaposition of melody and rhythm. The mixture of melody andrhythm is what we commonly refer to as music. However, our minds interpret thisauditory information as more than just sound signals; somehow, we are able todifferentiate between certain types of music, and develop preferences for thesedifferent types. Yet, what are the ways in which the effects of music manifestthemselves? First, there are particular biochemical responses in the human body to music. Research shows that college students, when listening to music, have moregalvanic skin response peaks, as opposed to when they were not listening tomusic.

This research also indicates a significant decrease of norepinephrinelevels in students while they listen to 'preferred' music. Norepinephrine is aneurotransmitter that arbitrates chemical communication in the sympatheticnervous system of the human body. The release of this neurotransmitter, as aconsequence of a function of the brain, results in an increased heart rate andheightened blood pressure. Therefore, the decrease of norepinephrine in thesecollege students results in a more 'relaxed' state. This could suggest thatfavored or pleasant music somehow affects the mind, resulting in the relaxing ofthe body. Another research project, undertaken at the Tokyo Institute ofPsychiatry, focuses on the effects of music on the mind usingelectroencephalograms (EEG). An electroencephalograph is a medical instrumentthat is capable of showing the electrical activity of the brain by measuringelectrical potentials on the scalp.

In this experiment, volunteers were exposedto silence, music, white noise (simulated hiss), and then silence. The result ofthis experiment coincides with the previous findings. The volunteers allreported feeling a calming sensation. However, the researches did not attributethe lowered tension to reduced neurotransmitter levels. While listening to music,'many of the subjects reported that they felt pleasantly relaxed or comfortable..Music may evoke more organized mental activities which result in subjectivelycomfortable feelings.' The white noise in the experiment produced an evengreater effect; the volunteers were so relaxed that many felt drowsy andsoporific. This sleepy effect can be explained by the monotonous characteristicsof white noise, in contrast to the variations in tone and melody of normal music. Furthermore, the researchers found, based on the EEGs, that while listening tomusic, the volunteers maintained a higher consciousness than when they wereexposed to silence or white noise. What this experiment shows is that there is achange in the mental state of people while listening to music; that is, musichas certain psychophysiological effects on humans. Along with these psychophysiological effects, music has an impact on memory aswell.

In one experiment, words were presented to test subjects, while eitherclassical music, jazz music, or no music played in the background. When the testsubjects were asked to repeat the words a few days later, either the same musicor a different background was present. The researcher noticed a 'facilitativeeffect of providing the same [musical] context.' Similar research has been doneon CDM. CDM stands for context-dependent memory, which is the principle that'changing the context or environment in which material was originally learnedcauses some of that material to be forgotten.' A group of scientists testedcollege undergraduates by asking the students to rate the pleasantness of asequence of words, while they listened to a certain type of music. Afterwards, they were asked to recall these words. The results indicate that the studentswere able to recall the sequence more successfully if the same musical piece wasplaying. Furthermore, the researchers found that if the music played during therecall had a different tempo than the original music, then there was a loweredability to recall the words.

These results are also supported by a supplementaryinvestigation, where it was shown that a musical piece can facilitate learningand recall. Perhaps a common manifestation of this phenomenon is when youremember the jingles in commercials. A test conducted at the University ofWashington demonstrated that brand names were more easily recalled when theywere presented in the form of a musical tune, instead of just spoken. Hence, this is a consistent example of one relationship between music and memory. Now that there is a quasi-established link between the human mind and music, what are some of the ways that music affects human behavior? Fortunately, thereis a considerable amount of research available that indicates how humansfunction while being subjected to music. A group of specialists at theUniversity of Connecticut studied how people communicate with each other whilebackground music was present.

A hundred and four students were paired off andput into rooms with either different types of background music playing, or nomusic playing. In the rooms, these students were asked to perform some problemsolving tasks that required conversation between them. After five minutes, thesubjects were asked to rate their conversations. Of the students who heardbackground music, almost all reported 'significantly higher satisfaction [withcommunication] than those in the no-music condition.' The different types ofmusic also affected the students. The researchers noted that the students wholistened to fast music had differently paced conversations than those wholistened to slow music.

The volunteers who listened to major mode musicperformed notably better than those who listened to music of minor mode. Thus, not only does music affect the way humans converse, but different classes ofmusic influence people in different ways. A further way in which music has animpact on our behavior can be witnessed in something as conventional as walking! A recent investigation into the effects of music on walking distance wasperformed at Ursinus College. Volunteers were asked to walk for ninety seconds. The study showed that, 'music significantly influenced distance walked.' Theconclusion reached by the scientists in this instance contradicts the previousresults. Instead of 'raising the consciousness' of the mind, the researchershypothesized that the music interfered with or distracted the minds of the testsubjects. A related study concurs with this finding.

In this case, collegestudents were asked to complete two hundred and twenty hand-eye coordinationproblems while listening to different types of music. It was found that therhythm and loudness of the background music interfered with the attention spanof the students. These last two studies seem to refute the findings of the otherresearch; but in a sense, all the studies correlate a modification of behaviorcaused by the presence of music. The next reasonable step is to ask how this modification of behavior or affectof music on the mind can be harnessed. One major field that may benefit frommusic's affect on the mind is education. As a matter of fact, it has been shownthat by exposing students in a classroom to music, the musical exposure enhancesclass achievement.

A research performed at Glassboro State College indicatedthat when music was played in a certain psychology class for twenty minutes eachday, the music 'stimulated the human alpha and beta brain waves,' resulting inthe attainment of 'significantly higher mean scores on examinations than thosewho were not exposed to the music.' In addition, music can also be used to aidin the education of mentally handicapped students. In a school district inPrescott, Arizona, music was added to the academic environment of specialeducation students. This resulted in an increase in performance, especially inthe area of mathematics. Thus, it has been established that there is a link between music and the mind orhuman behavior. There still, however, remains a great deal of research thatneeds to be done in order for us to comprehend the why and how. This is asubstantial challenge, considering that not much is know about the mysteries ofthe brain itself, let alone how it is affected by auditory impulse. It shouldalso be noted that although the studies presented show certain effects of music, in each study there are exceptions.

Some people show no signs of alteredbehavior or any other effects of music. There are even some studies where amajority of the subjects show no known measurable effects of music. Nonethelessthere is a great potential for this topic of the music and the mind. If weunderstand how human beings are effected by music, we can alter how human beingslearn and behave, as simply as by turning on the radio. ReferencesBalch, William R., Kelley Bowman, and Lauri A. Mohler.

(1992). 'Music-dependentMemory in Immediate and Delayed Word Recall.' Memory and Cognition, 20, pp. 21-28.Becker, Nancy, Catherine Chambliss, Cathy Marsh, and Roberta Monetmayor. (1995).'Effects of Mellow and Frenetic Music and Stimulating and Relaxing Scents onWalking by Seniors.' Perceptual Motor Skills, 80, pp. 411-415.Blood, Deborah J., and Stephen J. Ferriss. (1993).

'Effects of Background Musicon Anxiety, Satisfaction with Communication, and Productivity.' PsychologicalReports, 72, pp. 171-177.McLaughlin, T. F., and J. L. Helm.

(1993). 'Use of Contingent Music to IncreaseAcademic Performance of Middle-School Students.' Psychological Reports, 72, p.658.Ogata, Shigeki. (1995). 'Human EEG Responses to Classical Music and SimulatedWhite Noise: Effects of a Musical Loudness Component on Consciousness.'Perceptual Motor Skills, 80, pp. 779-790.Perrewe, Pamela L., and Richard W. Mizerski. (1987).

'Effect of Music onPerceptions of Task Characteristics.' Perceptual Motor Skills, 65, pp. 165-166.Russel, P. A. (1987). 'Memory for Music: A Study of Musical and ListenerFactors.' The British Journal of Psychology, 78, pp. 335-347.Schreiber, Elliott H.

(1988). 'Influence of Music on College Students'Achievement.' Perceptual Motor Skills, 66, p. 338.Smith, S. M. (1985). 'Background Music and Context Dependent Memory.' AmericanJournal of Psychology, 6, pp. 591-603Sogin, David W.

(1988). 'Effects of Three Different Musical Styles of BackgroundMusic on Coding by College-Age Students.' Perceptual Motor Skills, 67, pp. 275-280.Vanderark, Sherman D., and Daniel Ely. (1993). 'Cortisol, Biochemical, andGalvanic Skin Responses to Music Stimuli of Different Preference Values byCollege Students in Biology and Music.' Perceptual Motor Skills, 77, pp.

227-234.Wallace, Wanda T. (1994). 'Memory for Music: Effect of Melody on Recall ofText.' Journal of Experimental Psychology, 20, pp. 1471-1485.Yalch, Richard F. (1991). 'Memory in a Jingle Jungle: Music as a Mnemonic Devicein Communicating Advertising Slogans.' Journal of Applied Psychology, 76, pp.268-275.Microsoft Bookshelf 1995.

CD-ROM. United States: Columbia University Press, 1995Microsoft Encarta 1995. CD-ROM. United States: Columbia University Press, 1995.

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