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Listening to ‘groovy’ music like ABBA or the Bee Gees can improve brain performance, study shows

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Stay ALERT! Listening to ‘groovy’ music like ABBA or the Bee Gees can improve brain performance, study shows

  • Listening to ‘groovy’ music can improve brain performance for those familiar with it
  • Scientists at the University of Tsukuba found that it improved ‘executive function’
  • This is a set of mental skills that allow us to focus and remember
  • Results were recorded only in participants who felt clear-headed after listening

Groove is in the heart, but also in the mind.

Scientists have found that listening to “groovy” music, from artists like the Bee Gees or ABBA, can improve brain performance.

A study from the University of Tsukuba in Japan found that songs with a groove rhythm enhance the listener’s “executive function.”

Executive function is a set of mental skills that allow us to plan, focus, remember, and multitask.

However, these results were only seen in participants who were familiar with groove music or had a good rhythm.

“The results were surprising,” said lead author Professor Hideaki Soya.

“We found that groove rhythm improved executive function and activity in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex only in participants who reported that the music elicited a strong groove sensation and a clear head.”

Scientists have found that listening to ‘groovy’ music, from artists like the Bee Gees or ABBA, can boost brain functions such as attention and memory (stock image)

Graphical representation of brain regions showing executive function studied by the scientists

Graphical representation of brain regions showing executive function studied by the scientists

Table showing the correlation between task performance and psychological variables.  A negative coefficient indicates that the participant performed better after listening to groove music, while a positive coefficient indicates that the participant performed better after listening to white noise

Table showing the correlation between task performance and psychological variables. A negative coefficient indicates that the participant performed better after listening to groove music, while a positive coefficient indicates that the participant performed better after listening to white noise

HOW WAS THE RESEARCH CARRIED OUT?

Researchers from the University of Tsukuba performed brain imaging on study participants as they completed a color and word matching task.

The 58 participants performed the same color word matching task before and after listening to three minutes of groove music or white noise.

They also completed a survey about their subjective experience of listening to ‘groove’ music

Scientists in the picture the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (l-DLPFC), an area of ​​the brain related to executive function, as they took on the task.

They found that groove rhythm increased executive function and l-DLPFC activity in participants who felt a “greater groove sensation” or more alert after listening.

Both music and exercise, such as dancing, are known to induce feelings of pleasure by stimulating the release of dopamine in the brain.

According to a 2012 study by Andrea Weinstein, aerobic fitness can also improve executive function, so Professor Soya’s team decided to investigate whether music could induce a similar effect.

To do this, they performed brain imaging on study participants as they completed a color and word matching task.

The 58 participants performed the same task before and after listening to three minutes of groove music or white noise

They created a groove track on Garage Band to use in the study, with a rhythm of 120 bpm – an “appropriate tempo for inducing groove with drum beats.”

The researchers also conducted a study of the participants’ subjective experience of listening to groove music, to find out if there would be any results associated with music taste.

Participants were asked whether they had ‘difficulty syncing to the beat’ or ‘feel like’ [their] body resonates with the rhythm’.

they used functional near infrared spectroscopy to image the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (l-DLPFC) – an area of ​​the brain associated with executive function.

They found that groove rhythm increased executive function and l-DLPFC activity in participants who felt a “greater groove sensation” or more alert after listening.

This suggests that the tunes only improve the brain power of those who have an improved psychological response to the music, the researchers said.

Professor Soya said: ‘Our findings indicate that individual differences in psychological responses to groove music modulate the corresponding effects on executive function.

A visualization of the experiment.  WM = White noise, GR = Groove rhythm, CWST = Color word matching task, fNIRS = Brain imaging performed, HR = Heart rate measured

A visualization of the experiment. WM = White noise, GR = Groove rhythm, CWST = Color word matching task, fNIRS = Brain imaging performed, HR = Heart rate measured

“As such, the effects of groove rhythm on human cognitive performance may be influenced by familiarity or the ability to process beats.”

Strategies for improving executive function have a wide range of potential applications, from preventing dementia in the elderly to helping employees improve their performance at work.

Music with a strong rhythm is known to improve walking performance in Parkinson’s disease by reducing the cognitive demands of synchronization to the beat and promoting movement.

The study is published in the journal Scientific Reports

THE EFFECTS OF MUSIC ON DEMENTIA

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that making music has a small but significant impact on cognitive function.

This was based on completing tasks such as remembering a list of items, naming the year and month, or doing sums.

In the studies, people sang or played musical instruments along with childhood songs or hits from the 1920s and 1930s.

A study of 42 people given song sheets to sing along to eight of their favorite songs found that their mood improved afterward.

Meanwhile, the experiment in which 35 people played improvised instruments, such as blowing through a straw, indicated that their quality of life improved afterward.

In a separate study, scientists from Hanover Medical School, Germany, and the University of Geneva, Switzerland, analyzed whether learning piano later in life also helps the brain.

They recruited 121 men and women in their 60s and 70s who had never played a musical instrument before.

Each had a brain scan before and after the experiment to measure changes in an area called the fornix.

This is made of white matter which plays an important role in cognition and memory but naturally declines with age.

Half of the recruits received one-hour weekly piano lessons for six months, with instructions to practice at home for at least half an hour each day.

The rest attended weekly presentations on different types of music and were encouraged to listen to different genres.

Scans revealed that the piano students lost little or none of their white matter density, indicating that brain function was not declining.

But those who didn’t take classes had a significant decrease in white matter density, increasing their chances of developing dementia and memory problems.

sourcesJournal of the American Geriatrics Society and Frontiers in aging neuroscience

Playing well-known music for dementia patients can improve their quality of life (stock image)

Playing well-known music for dementia patients can improve their quality of life (stock image)

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