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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.

To Your Health: Music's Health Benefits

In Shakespeares’s play Twelfth Night, Duke Orsino observes, “If music be the food of love, play on.” But can music be brain food too?

Hello, I’m Dr. Brooke Hildebrand Clubbs at Southeast Missouri State University. Johns Hopkins Medicine reports, “Research has shown that listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain as well as improve sleep quality, mood, mental alertness, and memory.”

While the Mozart Effect postulates classical music increases brain activity and makes its listeners smarter, recent studies have shown any music can have positive effects on the brain. A neuroscientist and a world-renowned violinist who are both professors at the University of Central Florida have done extensive research on how the brain responds to music. This can be seen on an MRI, where lots of different parts of the brain light up as music is played, and what lights up is not the same for everyone. For example, the occipital lobe, which processes what we see, is used by professional musicians when they listen to music, while laypersons use the temporal lobe — the auditory and language center. This suggests that musicians might visualize a music score when they are listening to music.

If you don’t currently tune in to all the musical programs on KRCU, try a genre you don’t usually listen to, such as “Caffe Concerto” or “Your Folk Connection.” While studies show people with dementia respond better to the music they grew up listening to, new music challenges the brain in a way that old music doesn’t.




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.