Listening to music is great, playing music is even better. Scientists are learning more each year about music and the brain. It appears the brain benefits from music. Whether you listen to music or play it, your brain lights up with powerful neurological connections and therapists for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's are taking notice.
Even though patients may have long lost the ability to recall names and faces, music can heal cognitive areas in the brain. In a 2009 interview, Dr. Oliver Sacks explained that several parts of the brain are not only stimulated by music, but they begin to function normally once again.(View interview here) Dr. Oliver Sacks explains that several parts of the brain are not only stimulated by music, but they begin to function normally once again.
The tests showed that almost any music works, but particularly noteworthy were the familiar songs of the patient's past, while upbeat music also worked exceptionally well. The extraordinary results lasted up to two hours after the musical sessions ended.
Doctors are baffled by the results and are still studying the inner working of the brain. Coming up with an explanation of how and why music works with millions of neurons may take decades, but rsearchers at MIT discovered through fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) brain scans, that music and speech uses the primary regions of the auditory cortex, which performs the first degree of cortical processing for sound. Beyond the initial process, speech and music selectively reach neural populations within the brain.
The MIT researchers think there’s a brain hierarchy that becomes engaged when introducing simple acoustic dimensions to the mind. Doctors and scientists are on the cusp of finding out how and why music works so well.
Since music has reached a special place in science, it's time to turn our attention to God's word. Does scripture have anything to say about music and its benefits? You bet it does. The word of God states that music is something used to worship and praise God. (Exodus 15:1, Psalm 71:23, Hebrews 12:2) Additionally, Psalm 49:4 reveals that song can be composed of Bible verses. And in Colossians 3:16 the Apostle Paul writes that we can teach others with psalms, hymns, and songs which exalts God.
The instruction of Colossians 3:16 is something many experience on Sundays. Most churches celebrate Jesus with song and hymn. Many of us go home chanting whispers of the songs we might have sung in church that day. But as early as Monday morning those musical memories are gone. To follow Paul's advice, we must continually rehearse our Bible based love songs to God.
Much like song birds who sing at the dawn of each new day, we must sing or chant our way into God's heart.
Psalm 135:3 explains that praising and singing to God is "pleasant". The original Hebrew word is synonymous with delight and physical beauty, or perfection.
If we compare before and after fMRI scans of Alzheimer's patients, we would all probably agree that brain images of those who underwent musical exposure are more perfect, or beautiful, especially because increased neural activity transmits more colorful imagery.
As a regular reader of this blog, this news comes to you as no surprise. God's word is continually proven right by science, and we've written hundreds of articles documenting the facts.
Now that we have reliable scientific documentation that the brain is designed to benefit from music and that God's word teaches us to worship and praise according to biblical principles with song, we need to delve into the best way to implement the instruction.
In 2007, a team of curious researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine scanned the brains of people while listening 18th-century classical music.
The results astonished the scientific community. Areas of the brain involved in memory, concentration, paying attention, making predictions, and updating memories were all enhanced by just listening to symphonies.
But here's what stunned scientists the most. Peak brain activity occurred during the short periods of silence between movements. These few precious seconds of silence allowed the brain to "switch on" tremendous amounts of brain activity.
Lab experts caught glimpses of the brain in action using fMRI scans. The results suggest that the techniques composers used 200 years ago help the brain to organize itself holistically.
The research was documented by the senior author Vinod Menon, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and of neurosciences.
When music is quieted or paused for several seconds, it's called event segmentation. During event segmentation, the brain dynamically changes its neural landscape to accommodate significant amounts of information.
Rythm, lyrics, and moments of silence are all significant in developing a beautiful mind. Some cultures have intuitively adopted these techniques over the course of history, but none compare to the way of Orthodox Christianity, none. Their success is mainly because they regularly obey instructions from the Bible.
Orthodox Christianity follows a tradition of rhythmically chanting God's word, particularly the Psalms. During many of their worship services, monks intermittently pause chanting prayer-mantras. The break is usually inserted into the service so the head priest may give a silent blessing, or so he may recite a quiet prayer.
If you talk to an Orthodox Christian who has cultivated the monastic life for few years, you instantly sense tranquility and clarity of mind. Traits many people desire to develop today. Now we know why a life of devotion reaps beauty, grace, thoughtfulness, and poise, and we have the science to back it.
Do you want to develop a beautiful mind with God? Take any worship song and sing it. Pause for a few seconds, then start over. You may choose to sing only the chorus or certain parts of the song. That's fine.
The essential element of the practice is that the lyrics must glorify God. The rhythm of your song will stimulate your brain, while the lyrics will magnify God. Together these elements will change you from the inside.
To launch a wonderful practice that can help you well into the sunset years of your life try the Orthodox way. Generally speaking, the monks have one rhythm they use in all chants which develops a nice cadence.
Here's a link to get you started: Listen to the Christian Meditation Mantras Chants Here
God's glory and beauty awaits. Don't hesitate. Get started today.
God bless you. See you in the kingdom.