How music connects people and reduces anxiety

Did you know? Brain waves synchronize at live music performances. Yep, it’s true. A research in LIVELab says so. LIVELab? Let us explain. It’s one-of-a-kind concert hall where scientists measure the brain waves of people to determine how music creates undeniable social bonds.

So, they staged a live concert. The band was asked to play eight songs, all different, some uplifting and jumpy, others that are soft and relaxing. There were 3 parts of the study conducted:

  • First part was in LIVELab, the concert hall which was packed with people
  • For the second part, they used a big screen in the LIVELab to present a video of the band’s performance to the participants
  • The final part was where participants experienced the recorded concert, but this time, instead of having a packed audience, there were three or four individuals sprinkled throughout the audience seating, so they couldn’t really see each other.

 

Researchers collected electroencephalography (EEG) data from participants in all three conditions and looked at how well synchronized their brain waves became.

What do you think happened?

“It turns out that in the live music condition, you get greater synchrony between the audience members than you do in the recorded condition or the condition where it’s recorded and you don’t have much of an audience to interact with,” Grahn, the researcher explained.

This is called »the delta band«. When the brain waves were synchronized in this live condition, they synchronized around the rate at which people tend to feel the beat.

Now, you’ve probably heard of binaural beats, maybe even listened to them – probably alone. The exact opposite of the previous concert. A 2019 review of 22 studies found that prolonged exposure to binaural beat tapes reduces anxiety. It also found that practitioners did not need to mask the beats with white noise for the treatment to have an effect.

This study also suggests that listening to binaural beats for a recommended period can affect a person’s subsequent behavior and sleep cycles. But when searching for binaural beats, there will always be a frequency mentioned, or a pattern, but what exactly do they mean? No worries, we got you:

  • Alpha (7-13 Hz) is used for relaxation.
  • Beta (13–30 Hz) improves concentration and alertness.
  • Gamma (30–50 Hz) promotes maintenance of arousal while a person is awake.
  • Delta (0.5–4 Hz) is used for dreamless sleep.
  • Theta (4–7 Hz) improves meditation, creativity, and sleep in the rapid eye movement (REM) phase.

Do you ever feel sleepy when listening to soft music and really excited when listening to an uplifting one? It’s all because of your brain’s ability to adjust to frequencies. Want to know more about frequencies? Stay tuned for our next blog.

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