Music has the power to stimulate strong emotions within us, and that’s absolutely true. We feel the music, we experience what it is supposed to transmit, to the extent of even using it to induce a certain state in ourselves. IF SCENT HAS A HOTLINE TO MEMORY, IT SEEMS MUSIC HAS A HOTLINE TO EMOTION.
But why does sound talk to our emotional brain? Why do we perceive emotional information in musical features?
Perhaps the primary reason is that power in stirring our emotions. Music evokes the full range of human emotion —from sad, nostalgic and tense to happy, relaxed, calm and joyous—. The reason? Brain areas typically associated with emotions, can be activated by… have you guessed it? Yes, music! This connection also explains the “chills” many people experiences during music-listening.
And even when we use music for other effects, such as concentrating or doing better on a demanding cognitive task, we are still appealing to our emotions. Music induces positive ones, which improves the cognitive performance. So the link music-emotions may be the reason why it helps us to get stuff done.
But why exactly does this experience of music distinctly transcend other sensory experiences? How is it able to evoke emotion in a way that is incomparable to any other sense?
Music has the ability to conjure up images and feelings that need not necessarily be directly reflected in memory. Something like our brain creating its own soundtrack, with “tracks” that bring on emotional states somehow linked to past experiences. The overall phenomenon still retains a certain level of mystery. The reasons behind the ‘thrill’ of listening to music is strongly tied in with various theories based on synesthesia.
Synesthesia is a condition in which a person’s senses are joined
When we are born, our brain has not yet differentiated itself into different components for different senses. So as babies, it is theorized that we view the world as a large, pulsing combination of colors and sounds and feelings, all melded into one experience – ultimate synesthesia
As our brains develop, certain areas become specialized in vision, speech, hearing, and so forth. Normally as adults, we are not capable to have this ensemble of senses. But when processing music, our brain’s emotional, language and memory centers are connected – providing what is essentially a synesthetic experience.
That is what gives music that fascinating characteristic. The one able to conjure up images and feelings. To see just for a few minutes the world again as a whole.
MUSIC AND EMOTION by Marko Ahtisaari and Ketri Karanam
Wanna know more about synesthesia? Feel free to check my article about it: Synesthesia: senses joined together