According to the famous line by William Congreve, "music has charms to soothe a savage breast" – and those charms have now been found to extend to soothing the frightened mind, as well.
In a University of Pennsylvania study focusing on patients about to undergo surgery, researchers found that those allowed to listen to a few minutes of relaxing music were essentially just as calm as those given a sedative. The implications of the study are significant: Not only is listening to music less invasive (and cheaper) than medication, but it could also eliminate the possibility of side effects associated with sedatives, such as problems with blood flow and breathing.
The study involved 157 adults, half of whom listened to three minutes of Marconi Union's instrumental piece, "Weightless," and half of whom were administered the sedative midazolam. While the latter group showed slightly less anxiety, the researchers said the difference was not significant. They also suggested that the results might be improved if pre-surgery patients were given more time to listen to music.
More musical charms:
- Plants have been shown to grow faster if they are surrounded by music, especially classical music.
- Your brain releases the feel-good hormone dopamine when you listen to music that you enjoy.
- In a 2014 study, it was found that people who listen to "chill-inducing" music (music that provokes a response such as goosebumps) are more generous than others.