For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he Proverbs 23:7 KJV
When we talk about guarding our minds, we should talk about the science too! In this episode we're going to touch on the effect of music on our emotion, neuroplasticity, and mirror neurons.
Effects of Music
There have been many studies on how music effects us, specifically our mood and behavior. I discovered this for myself with driving. Listening to fast paced, aggressive Hip Hop causes me to speed, but classical makes me sleepy; I actually started listening to Gospel because it helped me find balance when driving. To test whether music has an effect, take your favorite movie, your favorite scene, and remove the music. The music sets the mood—whether its to build suspense, increase tension, or to create a romantic atmosphere. You are setting the soundtrack to your life when you select which music you listen to.
Neuroplasticity is the “capacity of neurons and neural networks in the brain to change their connections and behaviour in response to new information, sensory stimulation, development, damage, or dysfunction.” Your brain creates paths (networks) in your brain when you perform an action. As the action becomes a habit, the more distinct the path becomes. Once the path is created, your brain tries to follow that path; in comparison, a new path is difficult to embark on. This change is possible, but it requires patience and perseverance.
Have you heard the saying “monkey see, monkey do?” Apparently we have something called mirror neurons that cause us to mirror what we see. For example, if you see someone drop something on their foot, it causes you to curl your toes. These neurons help us to have empathy for people. What scientists have found is that when we see someone do or feel something, the pathway in our brain that is lit up is the same one as if we actually performed the action. So me watching you cry, activates the same part of my brain as when I cry myself. This also means that if I’m watching violence, it’s creating violent pathways in my mind. If I’m watching porn, it’s creating pornographic pathways in my mind. It’s important to remember this when we choose the content we’re consuming.
References and Footnotes
- Robert J. Zatorre. "Music and the Brain". Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. January 24, 2006
- Leanne C. Alworth and Shawna C. Buerkle. "The effects of music on animal physiology, behavior and welfare". Lab Animal. 22 January 2013
- Sentis. "Neuroplasticity". YouTube. November 6, 2012
- Dr. Shelly Richardson, "Mirror Neurons: Causing Change Within Others ". TEDx | Gull Lake. August 25, 2017
- Lea Winerman. "The mind's mirror". American Psychological Association. October 2005
- Michael Rugnetta. “neuroplasticity”. Encylopedia Britannica. September 3, 2020; visited September 2022