How Sound Influences The Brain


We all know how powerful sound is.

The question is, why?

It’s all about how it affects the brain and triggers our emotions.

How Sound Is Perceived By The Brain

The brain processes what we hear in waves. It translates impulses from the ear into sounds that we know and understand. When we hear, sound waves travel from the outer ear and then through the middle ear, where the sound vibration stimulates tiny hair cells.

The tiny hair cells in the inner ear send electrical signals to the auditory nerve that is connected to the auditory center of the brain where electrical impulses are perceived the brain as sound.

A previous study also showed that our hearing works the way our vision works, which has a strobe-like effect in the mind. It helps us focus on the most important sounds in the environment and at the same time, it can help us place sounds in the three-dimensional space.

Sound has a huge impact on us, humans. According to Margareta Andersson, Sound Architect at Lexter Sound Design in Stockholm, “When we lived outdoors, with the forest as our walls and the sky as our roof, we had to trust our senses to survive. Our eyes, taste buds, and ears told us what was safe or not—these so-called genetic memories still linger in our human DNA.”

Scientists also discovered that the brain does not have one special area to analyze music. Instead, different areas of the brain handle various aspects of a song, like a rhythm and tone. It is also noted that that sound or music is wired directly into how we feel.


Sound And Feelings

Sound can trigger emotions in listeners. The three main areas of the brain that are responsible for these are the nucleus accumbens, amygdala, and the cerebellum. Here are the ways the brain triggers emotions when we hear sound:

Brain-Stem Reflex

This is a reaction in the subconscious that is hard-wired to the brain that warns you of significant or detrimental sounds.

Evaluate Conditioning

A lot of us associate sounds with certain emotions based on the context of the sound that we hear.

Emotional Contagion

Research in the 1990s showed that the brain may have mirror neurons that are active when you’re doing a task and when you’re watching someone else do a certain task.

Visual Imagery

If you like the sound of the waves crashing, it is likely that the sound creates powerful visual images of it in your brain.

Episodic Memory

Sounds can activate positive and negative memories.

When we experience certain sounds, the brain stores this information for later use. Sensory information, which is a particular sound, is associated with emotional information and stored in the auditory cortex, therefore, it allows the sound to have an emotional meaning.

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