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With some questionable health advice being posted by your friends on Facebook, politicians arguing about the state of the American healthcare system and a new medical study being summarized in just a sentence or two on TV---that seems to contradict the study you heard summarized yesterday---it can be overwhelming to navigate the ever-changing landscape of health news.

Music's Effect on Health

flickr user bunnicula (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/)

Have you cranked up one of your favorite songs when it came on the radio while carpooling and instantly been in a better mood? Do you turn on KRCU’s “Caffe Concerto” or “Afternoon Classics” when you need to focus on a project for work? Have you put yourself to sleep singing a lullaby to a baby?

It’s not just your imagination. Music has powerful effects on us mentally and physically.

A 2012 study in Ergonomics found music can positively affect mood while driving, which can have a positive impact on safe driving behavior. While the “Mozart Effect” has been questioned, it may have been for the wrong reasons. People who listened to Mozart didn’t necessarily perform better on cognitive tasks because the music raised their IQs, but because it improved their emotional state. That emotional reaction may explain the increased relaxation of surgery patients exposed to music before their procedures and their reduction of stress after them. Studies have also found that music can ease anxiety and depression symptoms.

Singing to that baby has positive effects for you both. A 2013 study in Pediatrics found that music therapy lowered parents’ stress as well as lowered baby’s heart rate, increased quiet alert time, improved sucking ability and enhanced sleep. Dr. Bobbi Pineda of Washington University recently found that when premature infants get too much exposure to loud medical sounds and not enough exposure to beneficial sounds, like language and music, it can negatively affect early development.

• http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/11/music.aspx
• https://medicine.wustl.edu/news/nicu-study-highlights-need-to-reduce-loud-noises-boost-beneficial-sounds/
• http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/music-and-health
• https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2013/12/17/health-benefits-music/4053401/
• Matthews, S. (2015). Dementia and the Power of Music Therapy. Bioethics, 29(8), 573-579. doi:10.1111/bioe.12148

Dr. Brooke Hildebrand Clubbs is an assistant professor in the Department of Leadership, Middle & Secondary Education. She writes for special publications of The Southeast Missourian and is a certified Community Health Worker.
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