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The Campanile

The Campanile

Students find music to be a form of relaxation, aid memory


Whether playing piano or dancing ballet, freshman Leilani Chen is constantly surrounded by music, day in and day out. She’s not the only one.
In a Schoology survey conducted by The Campanile over 97% of the 42 respondents said they listened to music daily.
And all of this music can certainly affect the brain.
David Hong, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, said processes such as MRI scans, which monitor brain activity, enable researchers to see the effects of music.
“One thing you could do to try to understand it is take to images of the brain,” Hong said. “You have people listen to music, and you track what’s happening in the brain at the same time.”
Hong said these scans allow researchers to study areas of the brain that music can stimulate.
“Music involves both emotion networks as well as reward networks,” Hong said. “They’re the same networks that are activated when you gamble or you find something very incentivizing.”
While music can affect a person’s reward networks, senior Kyle Vetter said he views music as a work of art and listens for the joy of it.
“I listen to music mostly to digest it as art and just to have something to do, so I’m not sitting around bored,” Vetter said.
But Hong said music stimulating these reward networks can help a student’s mood, making them happier and helping them out of a funk.
“If you are listening to music and enjoy it, it will positively impact you and might even decrease depression levels,” Hong said.
These effects can be seen in real life: junior Sophia Dong said music helps regulate her emotions.
“It’s one of the main ways I cope with emotions,” Dong said.
Hong also said music might be able to help students cope with stress, which could help them around exam season.
Senior David Tomz said he uses music as a tool for relaxation.
“One reason (I listen to music) is just to relax,” Tomz said. “If I’ve had a stressful day, music calms me down.”
And Chen said music often helps her push through a hard project.
“If I’m working on a physical project, I will listen to music,” Chen said. “It keeps me going.”
While the full range of effects that music could have on the brain are still not entirely understood, Hong said it is possible that music therapy could help in other ways.
“There’s a pretty good amount of research looking at music therapy and adolescents that have autism, and it might have a positive impact on social learning,” Hong said.
Hong said there’s even a possibility that music can help with degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s.
In the end, Hong said music is a useful tool, whether to cope with stress, to boost a person’s mood or even possibly to improve memory.
“Off the top of my head, I can’t tell you if there’s any research, specifically if it enhances learning,” Hong said. “But when you’re under stressful situations, music can have a positive effect.”

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Gavin Lin
Gavin Lin, Assistant Managing Editor
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