What’s Happening in Your Brain and Body as You Listen to Music [Video]

You wake up to a song as your alarm clock, stream music while you crunch numbers at work, blast power workout playlists at the gym, and attend music festivals on the weekend. But did you know that what you’re listening to can actually affect how you act, feel, and think?

“The effect of music on the brain or body depends in part on its genre,” Frank A. Russo, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Ryerson University, tells Yahoo Health. But it also depends on whether or not you like the song. “Someone who is a ‘metalhead’ will be able to hear all sorts of emotions in music that others would generally hear as being aggressive,” he says.

Regardless of your taste in music, here are some things that happen in your brain and body every time you push play on Spotify.

Your mood improves. Listening to “Happy” by Pharrell Williams can actually cheer you up. Research published in the Journal of Positive Psychology shows that listening to upbeat music improves mood, with one catch — it only works if you have the desire to be happy. Test subjects who listened to the upbeat music without feeling an urge to be happy did not see their moods change. “Listening to positive music may be an effective way to improve happiness, particularly when it is combined with an intention to become happier,” the study says. A separate study also showed that the “feel-good” neurochemical called dopamine is released when we listen to music. 

You work better. A 1993 study on “the Mozart effect” showed that listening to Mozart could improve standardized test scores. However, it’s not just classical music that has this effect. A study published in the journal Intelligence shows that people exposed to music performed better at spatial tasks than those not listening to music, but this was not dependent on the musical genre. One of the researchers in the Mozart effect study, Frances Rauscher, explained the implications to NPR: “The key to it is that you have…

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