When I gave birth to my first-born, I listened to CDs of classical music in the hospital. I figured that music would help calm me and distract me from the pain.
You might use music to distract yourself from painful or stressful situations, too. Or perhaps you’ve listened to music while studying or working out, hoping to up your performance. Though you may sense that music helps you feel better somehow, only recently has science begun to figure out why that is.
Neuroscientists have discovered that listening to music heightens positive emotion through the reward centers of our brain, stimulating hits of dopamine that can make us feel good or even elated. Listening to music also lights up other areas of the brain — in fact, almost no brain center is left untouched — suggesting more widespread effects and potential uses for music.
Music’s neurological reach, and its historic role in healing and cultural rituals, has led researchers to consider ways music may improve our health and wellbeing. In particular, researchers have