A few years ago I was blessed with receiving Sirius Satellite radio as a gift — that’s all I really listen to now in my vehicle. What’s my favourite station?
70s on 7 — I find myself drawn to it almost every day.
The Beach Boys, Queen, The Rolling Stones, The Bee Gees, Led Zepellin, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, The Who, Eagles, Aerosmith, The Doobie Brothers, ABBA, ZZ Top, ELO, Steve Miller Band, CCR … the list goes on and on. What an incredible decade of music! I find myself lost in time when I listen to the music from my youth — and I often find myself singing along in my vehicle.
I’m alone of course.
In 2006, two Florida professors began studying and teaching about music and how it impacts brain function. Professors Sugaya and Yonetani have been teaching “Music and the Brain” to packed classrooms ever since, spreading the news about how music impacts our behaviour by reducing stress, pain and symptoms of depression, as well as improving cognitive function, motor skills and spatial-temporal learning. Music has also been shown to increase neurogenesis — the brain’s ability to build new neurons and neural connections (I previously blogged about neurogenesis in Nov 2017)
Sugaya and Yonetani teach how people with neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, can respond positively to music — and it doesn’t matter what kind of music. Classical, pop, rock, country. What appears to make a difference is it being the music of their youth. What did they listen to when they were younger? Stimulating those memories can have PROFOUND stimulatory effects in all of us, but curiously also in those who appear to have lost the ability to do so.
“Usually in the late stages, Alzheimer’s patients are unresponsive. But once you put on the headphones that play [their favorite] music, their eyes light up. They start moving and sometimes singing. The effect lasts maybe 10 minutes or so even after you turn off the music. This can be seen on an MRI, where lots of different parts of the brain light up.”“Your Brain on Music” – Pegasus, The Magazine of the University of Central Florida
It’s not as if we needed another reason to ensure that our schools continue to include the Arts as an important part of our curricular focus, but this is further evidence on why we need to continue to have music in our lives. Music can reach inside of us like few other things.
May we always have the opportunity to listen to the music that has made an indelible impression in our lives. And may we also keep singing it at the top of our lungs in our cars — regardless of what others may think about us as they stare at us with confusion at a traffic light.