This is Your Brain on Music



Which of these facts about your brain on music surprised you?

1. Music affects how we perceive things.

2. Listening to Mozart does not make you smarter.

3. Learning to play a musical instrument can improve other abilities.

4. Sometimes music can be really distracting!

5. Overall, music is probably good for our health.


“This is Your Brain on Music”
Written by Kate Fehlhaber
Video by David Jaimes
Music by Kevin Dean
Narrated by Bob Turton



Fact 1:

Woloszyn, M. R., & Ewert, L. (2012). Memory for facial expression is influenced by the background music playing during study. Advances in Cognitive Psychology / University of Finance and Management in Warsaw, 8(3), 226–233.

Fact 2:

Bridgett, D.J.; Cuevas, J. (2000). “Effects of listening to Mozart and Bach on the performance of a mathematical test”. Perceptual and Motor Skills 90(3 Pt 2): 1171–1175.

McKelvie, Pippa; Low, Jason (2002). “Listening to Mozart does not improve children’s spatial ability: Final curtains for the Mozart effect”. British Journal of Developmental Psychology 20 (2): 241.

Patel, Aniruddh D. Music, Language, and the Brain. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008.

Rauscher, Frances H.; Shaw, Gordon L.; Ky, Catherine N. (1993).”Music and spatial task performance” (PDF). Nature 365 (6447): 611.

Fact 3:

Zuk, Jennifer, Christopher Benjamin, Arnold Kenyon, and Nadine Gaab. “Behavioral and Neural Correlates of Executive Functioning in Musicians and Non-Musicians.” PLoS ONE 9.6 (2014).

Fact 4:

Warren Brodsky, Zack Slor. Background music as a risk factor for distraction among young-novice drivers. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 2013; 59: 382

Fact 5:

Karageorghis, Costas I., and David-Lee Priest. “Music in the Exercise Domain: A Review and Synthesis (Part I).” International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology 5.1 (2012): 44-66.

Karageorghis, Costas I., and David-Lee Priest. “Music in the Exercise Domain: A Review and Synthesis (Part II).” International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology 5.1 (2012): 67-84.

Salimpoor, Valorie N., Mitchel Benovoy, Kevin Larcher, Alain Dagher, and Robert J. Zatorre. “Anatomically Distinct Dopamine Release during Anticipation and Experience of Peak Emotion to Music.”Nature Neuroscience Nat Neurosci 14.2 (2011): 257-62.

Särkämö T, Ripollés P, Vepsäläinen H, Autti T, Silvennoinen HM, Salli E, Laitinen S, Forsblom A, Soinila S, Rodríguez-Fornells A. Structural changes induced by daily music listening in the recovering brain after middle cerebral artery stroke: a voxel-based morphometry study. Front Hum Neurosci. 2014 Apr 17;8:245.

Kate Fehlhaber

Kate graduated from Scripps College in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Neuroscience, completing the cellular and molecular track with honors. As an undergraduate, she studied long-term plasticity in models of Parkinson’s disease in a neurobiology lab at University of California, Los Angeles. She continued this research as lab manager before entering the University of Southern California Neuroscience graduate program in 2011 and then transferring to UCLA in 2013. She completed her PhD in 2017, where her research focused on understanding the communication between neurons in the eye. Kate founded Knowing Neurons in 2011, and her passion for creative science communication has continued to grow.

7 thoughts on “This is Your Brain on Music

  • February 10, 2016 at 11:31 am

    Great video! Sometimes science facts are hard to reference but here you point directly to specific studies. Could you please add either to the generic or below the references so that we can have access to the facts and data. Thanks again

  • February 10, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    Hi Catherine! Thanks for watching our first ever fully animated video! I’ve included some references here. Hope that helps!

  • February 10, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    Wonderful! Would you agree that I used your video in my classes? (now that it is referenced I can 😉

    • February 10, 2016 at 12:30 pm

      Of course! Are you a student or an educator? Be sure to reference us, Knowing 🙂

  • February 10, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    Will do 🙂 I’m an educator, researcher, entrepreneur, science advocate, human passionate about science and most importantly lifelong student. Just shared your piece on the Facebook page of Immerscience (english website coming)

    • February 10, 2016 at 12:44 pm

      Amazing! Keep in touch!

  • February 26, 2020 at 5:53 am

    thanks this article well to add knowledge that I did not know before. How else do you complete this process especially for beginners?

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