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surprising psychological benefits of music

Music Can Improve Your Cognitive Performance

Research suggests that background music, or music that is played while the listener is primarily focused on another activity, can improve performance on cognitive tasks in older adults. Specifically, one study found that playing more upbeat music led to improvements in processing speed while both upbeat and downbeat music led to benefits in memory.

So the next time you are working on a task, consider turning on a little music in the background if you are looking for a boost in your mental performance. Consider choosing instrumental tracks rather than those with complex lyrics, which might end up being more distracting.

Music Can Reduce Stress

It has long been suggested that music can help reduce or manage stress. Consider the cottage industry centered on meditative music created to soothe the mind and inducing relaxation. Fortunately, this is one trend supported by research. Listening to music can be an effective way to cope with stress.

In one 2013 study, participants took part in one of three conditions before being exposed to a stressor and then taking a psychosocial stress test. Some participants listened to relaxing music, others listened to the sound of rippling water, and the rest received no auditory stimulation.

The results suggested that listening to music had an impact on the human stress response, particularly the autonomic nervous system. Those who had listened to music tended to recover more quickly following a stressor.

Music Might Help You Eat Less

One of the most surprising psychological benefits of music is that it might be a helpful weight loss tool. If you are trying to lose weight, listening to mellow music and dimming the lights might help you achieve your goals.

According to one study, people who ate at low-lit restaurants where soft music was played consumed 18 percent less food than those who ate in other restaurants. Why? The researchers suggest that the music and lighting help create a more relaxed setting. Since the participants were more relaxed and comfortable, they may have consumed their food more slowly and been more aware of when they began to feel full.

You might try putting this into practice by playing soft music at home while you eat dinner. By creating a relaxing setting, you may be more likely to eat slowly and therefore feel fuller sooner.