Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

The Influence of Music on Neurons

Student Blogger's picture

The Influence of Music on Neurons Anisha Chirmule Luciano Pavarotti once said “if children are not introduced to music at an early age, I believe something fundamental is actually being taken from them”. People are surrounded by music everyday; it affects mood, concentration, creativity, and even the ability to learn. How can a combination of a few notes have such a profound effect an on individual’s ability to learn? When in infant is born, there are billions of nerves and nerve connections in the brain that are necessary for survival. These neural connections are formed through experiences and strengthened through repetition. An infant is exposed to new situations everyday that affect the nerves in their brain, and once these connections are formed it is very difficult to reverse or rewire them. Listening to music helps to create and strengthen more neural connections because nerves that deal with the auditory system of the brain are being activated in order to hear the music (1). Music is a stimulus that needs to be processed by the brain because we have receptors for sensing and reacting to music. The act of processing this stimulus influences the neural connections in the brain and therefore affects other neural connections which in turn affect the outputs of the body. The Mozart effect is a phenomenon that states when an individual listens to short bursts of music, their intellectual and motor abilities increase and become more efficient (2). It has a profound effect on young children because their minds are still developing at a rapid rate and their neural pathways are easily influenced. The music composed by Mozart has a 60 beat per minute pattern that is repeated throughout his pieces. This pattern activates the action potentials in the right and left hemispheres of the brain and it strengthens the connections between the neurons that connect the two halves. Strengthening of the neural connections leads to more efficient information processing because the brain must concentrate on comprehending multiple stimuli and it therefore becomes capable of multitasking. The ductility of an infant’s brain must be utilized to its fullest potential, because unused nerves are rendered useless.


As a musician, I wonder whether or not learning to read music affects the outputs of my nervous system. Learning to read music is like learning a new language. The syntax and semantics must be mastered in order to attain fluency. In order to learn read music, new neural pathways must be formed for the brain to comprehend what it is reading. These new pathways would affect the pre-existing connections and therefore many other outputs of the nervous system would be affected. Reading music increases creativity and the plasticity of neural connections because an individual must think in another mindset to understand what is presented. The plasticity is affected because not only do new neural connections need to be formed based on new experiences and stimuli, but the old pathways need to be remembered as well.


The brain has the ability to sense the happiness and sadness of music. When the tone and tempo of music is altered, different portions of the brain are stimulated which have neural connections that detect the happiness or sadness of the song (3). The effect of music on the neural connections varies from person to person but certain areas of the brain do become active when different types of music are played. Processing different rhythms, tones, melodies, requires multiple areas of the brain to be active. To understand music, its components must be broken down and processed by different areas of the brain (4). The process of breaking down a piece of music utilizes many neural pathways which results in one large output of the nervous system.


William Shakespeare once wrote, “If music be the food for love, play on”. Well, I say if music be the food for new neural pathways and increased intellectual abilities, by all means, play on.

WWW sources

1) ; Your baby needs music

2) ; Music and the Brain

3) ; Brain regions involved in the recognition of happiness and sadness in music.

4) ; Music and Neurology



Serendip Visitor's picture


im doing an english paper for school about why they shouldnt cut music programs because im afraid that may happen in my district. after i finish it im going to send it to my district. this was very helpful. thank you!

Siju George Thomas's picture

Music Perception

Which is the area in the Brain that is responsible for music perception???

Anonymous's picture

1. Which part/s of the brain

1. Which part/s of the brain is/are most affected by classical music?
2. Which of these parts are affected by:
a. Working memory
b. Focused or selective attention
c. Conceptual reasoning
3. Based on your studies, does classical music really help the brain’s activity in any way?
4. How does classical music affect one’s brain?
5. Are there different effects for different age brackets?

Anonymous's picture

Music calming our nerves

It definately plays a large part in how we we live, learn, and how we can calm ourselves down. If you are nervous I would definately suggest listening to some of your favorite music... Good luck!!

Anonymous's picture

biology of music and creativity

Please provide me information about the effects of indian classical music on specific areas of the brain and give me an over all view of the effects of classical music on human psychology and its relationships.I want to know which part of the brain gets effected after listening to indian classical music that can increase human's creativity,imagination,intelligence,spirituality etc?????

Sudip Basu's picture

neural pathways of music

To day at office I was working with my 6 adult students on the effects of music (pre-reaction time & state anxiety inventory and post reaction time & state anxiety). After taking Pre RT-Anxiety, exposed them to music (Sitar and tabla...for 10 minutes) and then again Post RT-Anxiety has been recorded/ In the post treatment RT was high(over 300ms) for first 3-4 trials(denoting less alert out of 10 trials); but the rest of the RT trials were below the basal RT (around 130-160ms)i.e.,showing high alertness/arousal.I shall keep on track about the finding in my next sessions.I am searching for probable reason or explanation regarding this. If you can help me to search my queries/ Thank you.. Sudip Basu, Clinical Supervisor(Psychology), AYJNIHH,ERC, Kolkata.

Jewel Lee's picture

Music for children who have neurological disorders?

My eight-yr-old son has been diagnosed with mild cp, autism, oral and visual dyslexia, and sensory integration disorder. I am searching for more than "band aids" and "coping mechanisms" (though of course these are also useful). I believe there are scientific solutions .. ways to repair damaged pathways and/or build new ones. And it makes sense to me that music may be one of these solutions. I am thinking that helping both sides of the brain to learn how to communicate with each other would be a gigantic step in the right direction. Have you heard about any related studies? If anyone here has any information that might help point me in the right direction, I would be very very grateful. Thank you!

Serendip Visitor's picture


I strongly suggest that you take some yoga classes yourself and feel the after effects of asana and pranayama and then try to teach your child. You'll surrely see the difference within 9 months. In pranayama... anulom-vilom pranayama, bhramari, udgeeth will definitely help.

Meredith's picture

Autism and other nervous system disorders

Hi Jewel, I am a chiropractic student and would love to share some info with you that may help your son. Chiropractic care can improve more than back pain :)
Shoot me an email if you're interested in hearing more!

Rachael's picture

This is very helpful

This is something that I've been wondering about for the past few years. I'm a musician and I heard that it was true, but I wasn't sure. This artical makes sense!

Destiny's picture

Hey! My name is destiny and

Hey! My name is destiny and i am doing a research paper for my english class. i need a little bit of information on how music triggers the different parts of the brain and how it effects a person's mood and personality. thank you.

Siju George Thomas's picture

to know more about music and its relation to the brain

hi i would like to know what kind of music affects which area in the brain.
which is the area in the brain resposible for music perception.
which are the areas in the brain that are stimulated through music.

Crystal's picture

The pre-frontal cortex :)

The pre-frontal cortex is responsible for music perception. That same part of the brain is responsible for your different emotions.

uma murthy's picture

Please send me information

Please send me information about the effects on music on specific areas of the brain. I would want to know more about the topics related to effects of classical music, particularly Indian classical music forms. If that is not possible please give me an over all view of the effects of classical music on human psychology.

abe's picture

i want to know exactly,

i want to know exactly, what's the part from the music itself that can increase creativity?

Sarah's picture

I would like to know more

I would like to know more about the Mozart Effect-please

Anonymous's picture

I happen to think the Mozart

I happen to think the Mozart Effect is completely bogus to an extent. It's just a bunch of ammateur psychologists playing Mozart for students and having them fold pieces of paper. I think there are certain aspects of classical music that can stimulate memories stored in the brain such as the answers to questions on tests, but i feel this would work better if the studying itself was also associated with the music. Associating memories with smells and sounds are extremely frequented in the human brain. I don't think it should matter the type of music as far as triggering memory. But i think the choice of Mozart is significant because classical many times does not contain lyrics that can interfere with the information you are processing at the time. it's as if your submitting some information to your brain through studying then submitting completely different information through the words in a song. this is based off many of my beliefs and some research from my psychology course.