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Music and Your Brain

How music helps your brain

Music has the power to make us feel excited, forlorn, motivated, empowered, happy and a whole range of other emotions. How exactly does it do that? And how can we use music to our advantage when it comes to accomplishing tasks?

In this article, we take a look at what happens in our brain when we listen to music and how music affects the way we feel and function. With this information, we can then create a strategy for using music in the workplace as a tool to help us perform better at our job and get more done. Let’s get started!

What neuroscience says

According to neuroscience research, when you listen to music that you find pleasing, it activates the release of the hormone dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, a chemical that the nervous system uses to send messages between neurons, or nerve cells.

Dopamine is widely considered the “feel-good” hormone, playing an essential role in the reward system of the brain. It’s associated with pleasurable sensations and is a significant part of how humans can think and plan.

The more you listen to music you enjoy (especially the tracks that make you tingle or give you goosebumps), the more your brain produces dopamine. And with higher levels of dopamine, the more focused, attentive and motivated you become. Dopamine affects your ability to learn, retain information, concentrate on tasks, strive toward a goal and maintain a positive mood.

And because getting things done gives you feelings of satisfaction, the activity of listening to music while working serves as a positive behaviour that leads to that hormonal reward. This means that when you listen to the music you like, the brain releases dopamine, allowing you to focus and complete your tasks. And as you become productive, the dopamine gives you that sense of reward for a job well done.

Listening to music at work

As you can see, it’s essential to keep your dopamine levels up when you’re at work. One of the best ways to do this is by listening to music, individually music that is not only pleasurable to your ears but also suits the tasks that you need to do. When choosing songs to look to at work, follow these tips.

  • For repetitive tasks that don’t require a lot of brainwork, listen to upbeat music to boost your energy and keep you from getting bored or losing focus. After all, you still need to pay attention to what you’re doing!
  • If you need to do some creative work or if you need to write something, it’s best to go for down-tempo music without lyrics. Ambient nature sounds and classical pieces also work.
  • If you’ve got a long day ahead (a nerve-wracking meeting or presentation perhaps), power yourself up with music, you find motivating. Rock anthems, power ballads, cheery pop tunes, symphonies or whatever music that lifts your spirits may do the trick.
  • If you are faced with highly cognitive, complex tasks that require your full focus, consider listening to music before working, then turning the music off once you start. If office noise bothers you, go for monotonous background music that masks the sound but doesn’t distract you from your work.

Of course, you have free reign over the specifics of the music you listen to and gets you motivated. What’s important is that you choose tracks that make you feel good. Check out different playlists and artists, try different sounds, mix and match according to your tasks and observe the effects on how you work. Explore and experiment, and tell us how it works out for you.

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Recommended reading

If you enjoyed this post and have time to spare why not check out these related posts and dive deeper down the rabbit hole that is the stress and anxiety.

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