How Does Music Affect Cognition?

In this article we will look at how music affects cognition. How it affects our brain and the ability to internalize messages.
How does music affect cognition?

The internalization of messages occurs through numerous means, including music. But how does music affect our mind? Is it really capable of acting on cognition?

A very important element of our culture, music is part of the life of each of us. Some musical styles can accompany and condition the mood and personality. Find out how music affects the brain and cognition.

Song lyrics can be a means of conveying a message. Then when the song becomes a hit, the message spreads like an echo in society. It is therefore logical that it affects common thinking, of which we feel an integral part.

How does music affect our body?

The relaxing power of music has been known since ancient times, and it is now known to have a significant influence on cognitive development. But how does it really affect our body?

Action of music on the organism

Our emotions are largely regulated by the so-called emotional brain. Here are the amygdala, hypothalamus, hippocampus and thalamus. Also known as the limbic system, this area of ​​the brain is responsible for regulating reactions to external stimuli. Among these are fear, sorrow, happiness, sadness, euphoria …

Listening to music causes the central nervous system to activate different chemicals. These, in turn, release some neurotransmitters such as dopamine and endorphins, which cause a feeling of well-being and joy. There are songs that can generate practically any kind of emotion.

When a person empathizes with a certain melodic message, it is normal for them to make it their own. It is at this point that intense activation of the limbic system occurs.

How does music affect the internalization of messages?

As we have seen, music can stimulate emotions and facilitate the internalization of a message. For example, it is able to reduce the amount of energy needed to make a decision over a choice. In part, the messages conveyed through music act as conductors.

On a social level, music has the power to generate bonds between various subjects or groups of people. Singing the songs that identify the group together can reinforce the feeling of belonging. A clear example of this idea is the hymns. These are melodies and lyrics that bring unity to the group, represent it and define it symbolically.

Some examples of musical genres: the RAC style

The RAC (Rock Against Communism) style was born in the 80s of the last century as a variant of rock, associated with the skinhead movement. In that period, numerous concerts were organized against racism and the rise of separatist movements. In contrast, several political parties of nationalist ideology decided to adopt the punk style to spread their message.

The RAC message is fundamentally racist and xenophobic, and this raises the first problems. In fact, as we mentioned earlier, it is easy for some individuals to make these texts their own. Basically, the idealization of the group or singer can lead us to justify and materialize the content of the lyrics of the songs.

The consequence is obvious: the prejudices triggered by these messages can guide behavior. It is a clear example of how music affects the cognition and internalization of content. The latter become an effective tool for giving quick answers to complex topics. They simplify the cognitive demand originating from complicated situations.

But be careful: in this way we risk creating a preconceived idea, a prejudice. We judge something or someone without verifying that the arguments made are valid.

Music and the brain

The RAC genre in Italy

Italy is one of the countries that has seen the birth of various musical groups of the RAC genre. They were quite successful in the early 2000s, but some were convicted of hate crimes a few years later. Sometimes the message of their texts borders on the criminal offense. Although protected by the constitution of this country, in these cases the freedom of expression exceeds the acceptable limits. 

However, the benefits of music on the brain and body have been confirmed by numerous experiments. Music is an integral part of our culture, which finds a way to define itself in melodies.

We cannot forget that songs are an excellent learning tool. Through the lyrics of the songs it is possible to encourage the internalization of messages. Consequently, it is necessary to pay attention to what we hear: it can affect the formation of our thoughts.

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