Friday, January 14, 2011

Rock Music makes Mice Eat Each Other

Here's the playlist for the article. I love Vitamin String Quartet. Enjoy!

While my mom was cleaning up the kitchen and throwing things away, she came across this article from the magazine Men’s Health called “The Healing Power in You iPod” by Bill Stieg and cleverly gave it to me figuring that I could read it, then summarize it for her. The heart of the article explains that music we listen to has physical and psychological effects on us humans. Stieg  quotes a professor from the University of Miami as saying that, “We’re musical beings….It’s like we’re hardwired for music.”  That really doesn’t surprise me much.  If music didn’t have any effect on people, why would people listen to music in the first place? What WAS surprising though, were the actual, specific effects.  Some of them seem obvious after reading, but good stuff to know anyways.

Music, What We Used Before Coffee

First, Stieg said that playing music and especially playing an instrument in the morning helps wake us up quicker, due to the fact it get more neurons firing. That has always made pretty good sense to me considering that playing the guitar has been a part of my morning routine for a while. What I did find amusing about it though is that he said that playing Guitar Hero or Rock Band can fulfill this requirement.

Music on the Road

Second, he explains that there is Australian research that suggests that silence isn’t ideal for driving (or for riding wallabies) and that it’s best to have music that makes you feel good in order to increase “alertness, reaction time, and maintaining a safe speed.” On the flipside though, research has also shown that the faster paced the tempo is, the more speeding, light-running, and accidents take place. The perfect examples of this would be two of my college roommates, Jeff and Jeremy. With loud, quick thumping music going, these to return missionaries become some of the most menacing and aggressive drivers on the road.  Actually, Jeremy drives crazy regardless. But Jeff, yeah, that’s right, YOU Jeff, you terrify me. You drive like we’re in a car chase scene from the matrix. For you my friend, I think you need to give up on the blink-182 while driving and listen to some Groban. Please… For all our sakes.

A Song a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Besides decreasing fatigue, nervousness and irritability, music has been shown to have several medical benefits as well, from increasing blood flow to people’s brains, to controlling pain in cancer patients. Stieg mentions a review in the American Journal of Public Health calling music "the most accessible and most researched medium of art and healing." So make sure you get a daily dose of an Apple and your favorite Weezer song, and you’re good to go.

So all in all I thought it was a pretty entertaining article. If you want to read the whole thing, it's right here. Oh yeah, before I forget, I did a little research on the web and found out some interesting tidbits of information. A sociology professor James Gundlach found higher rates of suicide among those who listen to country music. Granted, he does say it’s mainly older country music that’s always talking about divorce, beer, and losing dogs, but still, I know I contemplate killing myself every time I’m forced to listen country.  I’m not going to say much more than that, other than, I now have scientific proof that country music is crap. Here’s a link to the article if you’re curious or think I’m making this up. Read it and weep.

Also interesting was this article on rats. "A student named David Merrill devised an experiment to discover how music would affect the ability of mice to learn new things. Merrill had one group of mice listen to classical music 24 hours a day and another to heavy metal music. He then timed the mice as they ran through mazes to see if the music affected their speed of learning. Unfortunately, he had to cut the first experiment short because the heavy metal mice all killed one another. In a second experiment, mice that listened to Mozart for 10 hours a day dramatically improved their maze-solving abilities, while the heavy metal mice actually became worse at solving mazes than they had been at the beginning of the experiment.

Read more at Suite101: The Psychology of Music: Effects on Behavior, Intelligence, Learning, Pain and Health"

That pretty much wraps this up. Feel free to comment below on how happy you were to hear country music’s connection to suicide or anything else you enjoyed from the above article. I’ve gotta go make Jeff a road trip mix right now.


  1. also, I was talking to our favorite Steve Allred, and he says that we do even better if WE are the ones CREATING the music. Apparently it's scientifically proven or something.

  2. That's cool Jenna. =) Daniel. You crack me up. This is an awesome blog!