Why does music help in care?
Because it is non-pharmacological.
Music has neuro-chemical effectsstrengthens bonds between people
- Releases hormones and neurotransmitters
- Encourages neurosynchrony
Homeostasis is the process used by the human body to regulate itself. The agents that carry out this regulation are hormones and neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that help our body and mind stay in synchrony. Music has the capacity to impact homeostasis, without using pharmacological interventions.
Listening to music can elicit or dampen the stress response, depending on the individual’s affinity to the specific music they are listening to. A hormone known as cortisol is responsible for regulating the amount of stress we feel. Listening to music truly can ‘soothe the soul’ by decreasing cortisol levels released, and making us feel calmer. Research suggests that listening to live music can be especially effective at reducing cortisol levels!
Music has the ability to initiate the pleasure pathway in the brain, which occurs when we engage in something that we find enjoyable, like eating our favourite food. The pleasure pathway involves the release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which is responsible for making us feel a sense of happiness and even euphoria. Doing music with others like singing in a choir releases oxytocin, a bonding neurochemical that is also involved in childbirth and breastfeeding.
In our brains, there are millions of neurons, each communicating with each other (or firing) at different times. Neural synchrony occurs when many neurons “fire” together at the same time. Synchrony has been recognized as an important aspect of neural communication, consolidation of information, and the formation of new brain pathways. Through exposure to the rhythmic properties of music, neural synchrony can be enhanced.