The benefit of classical music to the brain

For fans of great concerts, we bring another reason to celebrate this World Classical Music Day!

Today we will talk about the mental health benefits of a life where the soundtrack goes from Mozart, Wagner and Beethoven to other names in the pantheon of classical music.

Classical music and genetics

Listening to music is a custom found in all cultures of the world. No wonder, this fascinating subject has already yielded countless research by scientific groups. In some of them, researchers were able to prove that the act of listening and/or playing music represents a complex cognitive function, responsible for countless effects on the structure and functioning of the brain.

However, a study conducted in 2015 by scientists at the University of Helsinki, Finland, released the first results of these effects at the molecular level. The data collected in the research indicate that the habit of listening to classical music increases the activity of genes involved in synapse, learning, memory and production of dopamine.

Dopamine is one of the most famous neurotransmitters of our nervous system. Its main function is to activate the reward circuits of the brain, becoming known to be the “neurotransmitter of pleasure”. Among other less known functions, dopamine also acts as an indispensable chemical mediator for the normal activity of our brain, so much so that its absence can cause Parkinson’s disease.

Prevention of Degenerative Diseases

During this same study, the team led by Professor Chakravarthi Kanduri, concluded that listening to classical music often activates genes capable of preventing some degenerative diseases.

For this research, 48 people (from 18 to 73 years of age) were gathered, characterized by their level of aptitude and musical education (among them, professional musicians, classical music fans and non-listeners of the genre). In order to establish the genetic alterations caused by the experience, the participants undertook a blood test, before and after being exposed to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Concerto for Violin No. 3 in Sol Major, K.216.

Although the genetic effects were identified only in individuals with a high rate of musical education (participants very much music fans or professional musicians), reinforcing the importance of music as something familiar to our routine, the study discovered other interesting data.

It was revealed that, besides activating genes linked to learning and memory, music also contributes to make less active the genes involved in the degeneration of the brain and the immune system, potentially reducing the risk of contracting neurodegenerative diseases, among them Parkinson’s Disease or senile dementia.

Music Therapy and Mental Health

The materials collected in the research directed by Prof. Kanduri suggest that listening to classical music has an effect on the human Transcritome, that is, on the expression of our genes.

According to these results, science can already identify new information about the molecular origin of musical evolution and sound perception. This may open doors to new discoveries about underlying molecular mechanisms in music therapy.

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