By: Miranda Mowrey, Columnist
Just three weeks after conception, a fetus’ heart pumps blood at a steady rhythm. A baby’s first cry mimics their mother’s voice and accent to a tee. For Alzheimer’s patients who are predominantly unresponsive to the outside world, music elicits liveliness that has been dimmed by their disease and inspires a short period of jubilant dancing and singing.
The power of music is felt by everyone. Sometimes, the confusing, unfamiliar emotions we experience can only be expressed in the form of a three-and-a-half minute song. Whether the song consists of the sharp cry of an electric guitar or the somber keys of a piano, a certain song’s melody can synthesize in a beautiful, indescribable way with our soul.
Music influences our brain in a variety of ways. The nucleus accumbens, found just behind the brain’s frontal cortex, releases dopamine in response to music. This part of the brain plays a primary role in addiction and can explain why you have been playing that one song on repeat for the past week because you simply cannot hear it enough! The amygdala, found deep in the temporal lobe, is responsible for processing emotions. Have you, like me, ever blasted “Sweet Child O’ Mine” in your car on the way to a daunting job interview? The ability for music to control your fear and give you courage to fight is all thanks to its interaction with the amygdala.
When I am sad, happy, guilty, scared, embarrassed, you name it, music seems to reflect these overwhelming emotions in the most comforting way. Let’s not take for granted the gift of music and the ability we have to express ourselves through different melodies. Like Alzheimer’s patients, music has the power to ignite a light within ourselves in the midst of any darkness imaginable. Everyday, give yourself at least ten minutes to turn down the sound of your roommate’s gossiping, the ding of a new Snapchat, and the always-negative news coverage and turn up the volume of your favorite song.