Music, Pleasure and the Brain

Have you ever wondered why music makes you feel so good? In my previous interactive demonstrations I have explained how the body and the brain are influenced by different kinds of music. I did this with live music to demonstrate how it works. I was aided and abetted by clarinettist Karl Dürr-Sørensen and French horn player Dominic Nunns from the London Symphony Orchestra, who play enchanting, haunting, and brain-befudling excerpts of music live on stage, in order to illustrate the aspects of music that wield power over our emotions. Together we showed the audience why some music makes us joyous, while other music makes us sad, or angry, or anxious, and how the brain interprets this music. We also show how music plays with your mind - what you think, how you decide what to buy, and even how smart you are.

Music is a long term interest of research in my laboratory. The topic has been presented as two lectures at the Cambridge Summer Music Festival, as a two hour scientific talk (without music) for scientists at the Functional Imaging Laboratories at University College London, and it can be expanded or edited to be appropriate for a given audience.

Some topics I cover are:

Why do we have music?
What does music do to our emotions?
Can animals hear and understand music?
What does music do to your brain?
Why do people listen to sad music?
Why do some people like classical but others only like heavy metal?
Is there some essential feature to all music?

More...

Irish Times Health Supplement - 'Striking a Chord with the Psyche'.
24 May 2006.
 
By Claire O'Connell View Article...

Guardian Unlimited - 'Music and its Mood-Altering Qualities'.
8 April 2006.
 
By Dr. Harry Witchel View Article...

Music Maker - 'Musicians Have Bigger Brains'.
June 2005 (Issue 85), p. 5.
A meeting report of The Neurosciences and Music II meeting in Leipzig, geared toward non-scientist/musicians.

By Dr. Harry Witchel
Contact: Brian Healey, editor.

View Article...

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