Musical Therapy – WIF Monday Medicine

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Music in History

The Health Benefits of Music

Music has been an integral part of human civilization for over 55,000 years and continues to be an important aspect of almost every culture on Earth. It’s so dominant that for many people, their life would be empty without their melodies. At the most basic level, music is just a series of sounds. But research has found it’s much more profound than us hearing noise. Music can have some amazing effects on both your mind and your body.

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10. It Reduces Stress

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One of the most well known benefits of listening to music is that it reduces stress. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence to support this and probably anyone who is reading this can remember a time in their life when they were stressed out and felt better after listening to a song or an album. But why does music have such a drastic effect on someone’s stress level?

One reason comes down to cortisol, which is a hormone that’s released when someone is stressed out. A high level of cortisol isn’t good for the body and is linked to a number of issues, including problems with memory and concentration as well as weight gain. It’s linked to depression, heart disease, and any other problems related to stress that are believed to stem from high cortisol levels.

Music effects stress because it has the amazing ability to lower cortisol levels, which decreases the feeling of stress in the body. The key to relieving stress through music is simply to follow your own natural urges; pick music that you love and fits your mood.

9. It Helps With Depression

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Music can have a profound effect on depression. It’s been found to aid in the treatment of depression by having sufferers play an instrument or sing, and can also help people with depression if they simply listen.

For example, researchers at Queen’s University Belfast got a group of 128 youths who were all being treated for emotional, developmental, or behavioral problems. Half of them received the usual care, and the other half were given that same care, along with music therapy. The researchers found that the students taking the music therapy had their self-esteem improve greatly and their depression drop significantly.

On the other end of the age spectrum, it’s been shown to decrease both anxiety and depression in people over the age of 65. So if you’re having a rough day, turn up your favorite song and belt out the words. You might be surprised at how good you feel.

8. It Helps People Sleep

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In order to see how music effects sleeping habits, researchers at the University of Taiwan gathered a group of 60 elderly people with sleeping problems. The 60 seniors were given the choice of listening to slow, soft music, or nothing at all for 45 minutes before bedtime. The results were that in the first week, the people who listened to the music reported 26% improvement, and that eventually rose to 35%. They found that they slept better and longer, and also felt better the next day.

The music they used was about 60-80 beats-per-minute, which is stuff like contemporary jazz or folk. The reason is that the music helped lower the people’s heart and respiratory rate. So next time you’re having problems sleeping, just throw on some James Taylor or Diana Krall before you’re going to bed. If you don’t hate that type of stuff, it should mellow you out enough to sleep.

7. It Helps with the Vascular Health

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While music does reduce stress and help with other parts of the brain, researchers weren’t sure if it causes any physical change in the body. Researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center decided to see how music impacts the endothelium function of the body. The endothelium function forms the linings of blood cells; the better the endothelium function works, the healthier the vascular system.

During the study, they had participants listen to joyful music as well as music meant to provoke anxiety. The participants also watched a video that would make them laugh, and another that would make them feel relaxed. Then they measured the flow mediated dilation (FMD), which measures the endothelium function. They found that the joyful music raised the FMD by 26 percent, which was higher than anything else. Laughter made it rise by 19 percent, while it was an 11 percent increase for the relaxation video.

The conclusion is that joyful music may be good for your heart, your veins, and your blood vessels. So don’t let anyone give you a hard time for still liking “Happy” by Pharrell Williams; you’re just trying to be healthy.

6. It Helps With Diet and Exercise

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Good news for those trying to lose weight: one way to help keep the calorie level down and give you an edge in exercising may just come from listening to the right music.

In order to see how music can affect eating habits, two researchers from Cornell University took over a Hardee’s fast food restaurant. They gave half the restaurant a makeover to make it look like a fine-dining restaurant, which included playing slow jazz music, while the other half of the restaurant was left looking like a normal Hardee’s. The researchers originally thought that the people in the fine-dining area would eat more because they would linger around longer and might be bored. However, they found the people in the fine-dining area actually ate less and enjoyed their food more. This means that if you want to eat less and get more enjoyment from your food, simply put on some slow, soft music while you eat.

Not only does music help with dieting, but it’s also incredibly helpful when it comes to exercising as well. A number of studies have been done on the connections between music and exercise. Some findings conclude that it helps people ignore fatigue and pain, improves mood, increases endurance, and it may also help with the metabolism’s efficiency. As for picking which music is the best for exercising, it’s important to keep it personal. For example, songs that evoke memories are useful. Also, if you can identify with the singer’s viewpoint or emotional state, it can be incredibly beneficial. It’s not about picking songs that are fast or up-tempo; it’s about picking songs that make you move.

5. It Helps With Stroke Victims

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A study from the University of Helsinki looked at patients who had just suffered a stroke and were recovering. They randomly assigned patients what they would listen to for a few hours every day: music, audio books, or nothing at all. The researchers found that, compared to the patients that listened to the audio books or nothing, the people who listened to music had their verbal memory and focused attention recover better. Also, their demeanor was more positive and they were less confused.

Another interesting finding in the study is that when it came to verbal memory, 60 percent of the group that listened to music improved after three months, but the group that listened to audio books only saw about a 19 percent improvement. The doctors believe that words are not enough to help, but words with music can be incredibly beneficial in helping repair the brain.

4. It Aids in the Development of Children

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Even at a young age, children can be helped by music. One study from York University in Toronto, Canada found that after just one month of music lessons, out of 24 participants who were between the ages of four and six, 90% showed improvement in verbal intelligence. Another study from Harvard University found that by training children in music, it also helps with the development of auditory discrimination, fine motor skills, vocabulary, and nonverbal reasoning.

In fact, music training has even been known to help children who don’t yet walk or talk. A study at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, found that one-year-old babies who participate in music classes with their parents smile more, communicate better, and show earlier and more sophisticated brain responses to music.

3. It Keeps Your Mind Sharp

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For some people who took music lessons as a child, it may have seemed like a torturous ordeal and a waste of time. The good news is that if you were one of those people, or are someone who is currently forcing a child to learn to play an instrument, the training may have long-term positive effects on the human brain. A study from Northwestern University found that the more musical training someone had as a child the sharper his or her mind was as a senior adult. For the study, they took a group of 44 adults between the ages of 55 and 76, who had studied music between the ages of four and 14, but had quit and had not played in at least 40 years.

The researchers recorded the brain activity of the participants in the area of the brain where sound is processed and they found that the participants with more musical training responded faster to speech. Although it is important to point out that it was only about a millisecond faster and that may not sound like a lot, but the brain is a sharp tool and it is sensitive to timing. If one millisecond is compounded over millions of neurons, it can have drastic effects on the lives of seniors.
The researchers believe that the study will hopefully encourage more musical training for children and it will also justify parents sending their children out of the house for music lessons for a few hours every week.

2. It Reduces Pain

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Researchers at the Pain Research Center at the University of Utah found that if people actively listen to music that they enjoy, they can reduce acute pain. This type of pain would be felt in situations like post-surgery or at the dentist.

In the study, they gave participants an electric shock and found that when listening to music, it decreased pain levels by 17 percent. It was twice as effective for people who have high anxiety. The reason music reduces pain is because a lot of the pathways in the brain that process music are the same ones that process pain. So when you listen to music you enjoy, it will create emotional responses that will compete with the pain, which means there are fewer resources for the body to compute the hurt.

1. It Improves Immune System

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Researchers at McGill University in Montreal, Canada looked at 400 papers on music and neuroscience. One of the things they found was that music can help the body’s immune system. They found evidence that when people listen to music their body has an increase in immunoglobulin A, which is an antibody that plays an important part in the mucous system. Immunoglobulin A is also a natural killer cell count, which are cells that attack germs and bacteria that are invading.

Essentially, this means that just by listening to Taylor Swift you could be improving your immune system and keeping yourself healthy. Go ahead and use that as an excuse if you ever feel like shaking it off.

Musical Therapy

– WIF Monday Medicine

Psychology 101 – WIF Common Sense

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Psychology Theories That

Defy Common Sense

Of course, we’re not suggesting that “psychology” should be renamed “commonsensology.” It’s cool that psychologists can dig up empirical evidence to prove what most of us dismiss as “plain old common sense.” Also, in their efforts to understand how humans think, they sometimes find out stuff that can make even the most rational layperson go “Wait, what?”

10. Agreeable People Are More Likely to Do “Bad” Things

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Imagine you have two friends named Alex and Daniel. Alex is pleasant and outgoing, while Daniel is cold and aloof. If someone asked them to dole out electric shocks to a complete stranger, who do you think is more likely to do it?

Your first answer would probably be Daniel, which is wrong according to an unpublished study in the Journal of Personality. The researchers found that people who are agreeable and conscientious are more compliant with requests like “Shock this person with electricity” compared to people who are contrarian and disagreeable. Furthermore, those who have left-wing political views are also less compliant with such requests, so if you know an ornery socialist they’re the one you’d want to trust in this scenario.

How’s this possible? Well, “agreeableness” can be a double-edged sword: If you’re an agreeable person, you’re more likely to go with the norm, whether that “norm” is morally questionable or not. If you’re disagreeable, you’re more likely to be the questioning type. Now, this isn’t to say that every Agreeable Alex is automatically “bad,” while everyone who’s a Disagreeable Daniel is automatically “good.” People are much more complicated than that, and trying to predict their future actions using one facet of their personality is ridiculous. Generally, it’s better to figure out to what degree they’d be compliant with a norm, rather than jump to hasty assumptions based on limited information.

9. Military Uniforms Alter Police Officers’ Psychology

Police Shooting Missouri

Unless you hid under a rock in 2014, you’re probably aware of what happened in Ferguson, Missouri. But we’re not here to discuss politics — we want to zero in on one particular aspect of the incident that may or may not have contributed to it: The Ferguson police officers’ uniform.

According to Maria Konnikova of The New Yorker, people associate police officers in military-style gear (e.g. SWAT suits, fatigues) with aggression. This seems commonsensical enough. But what’s really surprising is the effect of the uniforms on the police themselves. Konnikova writes: “When (police officers) ‘dress up’ for serious engagements, for example when donning SWAT gear to respond to a riot, they no longer feel like law enforcement anymore but like part of a broader military machine.” Gives a whole new meaning to “You are what you wear,” doesn’t it?

8. Your Language Affects Your Perception of the World

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If we have “You are what you wear” we also have “You are what you speak,” at least according to university professors Lera Boroditsky and Aneta Pavlenko. For them, the language you use determines what you notice, what you don’t notice, and how you categorize things. For example, since the Australian Aboriginal language Guugu Yimithirr doesn’t have specific words for “left” and “right” they say “The man to your west is my father.” Likewise, Russian distinguishes objects based on shape rather than material, while Spanish and German designate genders for objects.

There are people who disagree with this idea. John McWhorter, a linguist from Columbia University, argues that it’s not the language per se, but the culturesurrounding the language that explains why bilinguals seem to switch personalities when they switch languages. Boroditsky counters this by saying that a language is just one factor that shapes our worldview, and that learning languages changes our way of thinking the way other forms of learning does. Whichever you believe, one thing’s for sure: Learning a language other than the one you’re born with can be a life-changing experience — if you let it be that way.

7. Yawning Keeps Your Brain Alert

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Next time your boss calls you out for yawning in front of him, say “But sir, it helps me think!” Then smile inwardly as his eyes glaze over you and wonder what’s going on.

Seriously, though, there’s a good reason you yawn, and it’s not always because you lack sleep. Andrew Gallup, an assistant professor from the State University of New York’s  psychology department, says that humans yawn for the following reasons: to keep their own brains at an optimal temperature and become more alert, to make other people more alert (which explains why “contagious yawning” is a thing) and as a response to weaning off certain drugs, which explains why recovering heroin addicts yawn a lot. Talk about a load of useful functions for something so embarrassing!

6. Liking Starbucks Coffee Has Nothing to Do with “Quality”

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Ever wonder why people flock to Starbucks the way piranhas flock to fresh meat? Maybe it’s because Starbucks coffee is superior, quality-wise, to other types of coffee. Or maybe not: In a blind taste test, people think Walmart’s $3.88 coffee tastes just as good as $8.88 Starbucks coffee! So what is the secret to the latter’s popularity, if not taste?

Psychologist Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, thinks he knows the answer. In his book, Ariely writes that Howard Schultz took great care to design Starbucks like a “continental coffeehouse.” Basically, the coffee store’s great ambiance explains why people keep coming back to the green-and-white two-tailed mermaid again and again. The fact that Starbucks coffee is a rewarding and familiar splurge for caffeine-thirsty office workers also helps.

5. Distractions Bump up Your Productivity

“Block social media.” “Don’t check e-mail first thing in the morning.” If you’re a productivity junkie, chances are you’ve come across these tips at some point. But it turns out they’re not gospel, at least not for all people. One study by University of Copenhagen researchers showed that people who watched a funny video before completing a task made fewer mistakes than the people who were explicitly told not to watch the video beforehand. Given what we know aboutInternet distractions, it should’ve worked the other way around. So what gives?

Six words: Human willpower is a finite resource. You can only do the same thing over and over again for so long before you crack and get sucked into the Internet wormhole. As Jenna Wortham writes in her New York Times piece “I Took a Web Detour, and Now I Feel Better“: “Sometimes, I’ve found that losing myself in the Web can be invigorating.”

4. People Who Own More Aren’t Necessarily Happier

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When we think of “happy” people, we tend to think of those who have everything they could ever ask for: A big house, a nice car, and everything else money can buy. But Dr. Tim Kasser, a psychology professor from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, doesn’t think that’s the case. In an interview with the American Psychological Association, Kasser says that materialistic people areless healthy, less concerned about the environment, more selfish, have poorer academic performance and have more money problems. This can be explained by the main reason behind materialism: People want to own more, more and more when they try to overcompensate for something, or protect themselves from a perceived threat. So the next time you meet someone with more possessions than they can handle, maybe — just maybe — there’s more to that person than meets the eye.

3. When You Do Favors for Someone, You Tend To Like Them More

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From what we know about “liking” someone it usually works this way: If you do a favor for a person, that person will like you. Because, hey, who doesn’t like being on the receiving end of favors? But Benjamin Franklin (yes, that Benjamin Franklin) thought differently. Legend says that when a political opponent insulted him, Franklin returned the favor by asking him to let Franklin borrow a book. Flattered that Franklin — who was known for his good taste in books — asked him that, the man accomplished the favor right away and became a good friend of Franklin.

Whether or not this story is true, the Ben Franklin effect is definitely real. When a researcher challenged participants to an “intellectual contest” and asked them to return the prize money to him afterwards, the participants rated the researcher as more likeable. One possible explanation for this baffling phenomenon is cognitive dissonance. We all want our thoughts, words and actions to be consistent with each other. When we come across a situation causing an internal conflict between those three, we feel uncomfortable and try to “equalize” the conflicting sides to relieve our discomfort. To put this in the context of the Ben Franklin effect: Even if you dislike the person you’re doing favors for, a part of you wants to like that person, because why else would you do a favor for someone you don’t like?

2. Being Able to Feel Depression Is a Good Sign

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Let’s be clear on one thing first: We’re not saying that depression sufferers shouldn’t seek help. If you have it, please seek professional help.

That said, there’s a reason people are capable of experiencing depression in the first place. According to psychologist Jonathan Rottenberg, our high and low moods balance each other out. Without the highs  you’d be a real-life Eeyore, but without the lows you’d be a reckless bouncing ball of sunshine. Which brings us to…

1. Positive Psychology Can Be Negative

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Every day we’re bombarded with well-meaning but borderline sugary messages like “Be happy! Stay positive! Don’t be such a Debbie Downer!” But, as you may suspect, this is oversimplifying things a bit.

Negative emotions are hardwired in us as a sort-of leftover from the days when we had to defend ourselves from the likes of saber-toothed tigers. While these types of emotions can harm us if they’re left to stew and simmer, they can also push us to make the most out of a bad day, as a study from the University of Liverpool suggests. In fact, according to that same study, people who are “too compassionate” (yes, that’s totally a thing) feel emotional stress from basically being human shock-absorbers to other people’s negative energy.

Bottom line: To be emotionally healthy, allow yourself to experience both positive and negative emotions. Once you’ve calmed down a bit, think about why you’re experiencing them, use your judgment to decide the best course of action at the moment, and do it!

Psychology 101

– WIF Common Sense

Nuts For Puns #31

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Puns 001

Nuts For Puns #31

Why did the banana go to the psychiatrist? Because it had a split personality.

The psychiatrist told the genie his emotions were all bottled up.

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Psychiatrists like Kentucky Freud Chicken.

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A psychiatrist on a hike fell into a depression.

 

 

 

If you get a fruit basket from your psychiatrist it will probably be shrink-wrapped.

Nuts for Puns

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