The brain is a highly organized and complex organ that functions as the coordinating center of all sensation, intellectual and nervous activity. Each area of the brain directly corresponds to a very specific function (emotions, movement, visual processing, memory, etc.), and can be stimulated in various scenarios based upon these trigger activities. This is why people use music to navigate their existing mood, activity, or energy level.
Just as you should dress for the job you want to have, you should listen to the mindset that you seek. If it is a creatively-driven, focused mentality that you are after, then Dr. William Klemm, of Psychology Today, says you should listen to jazz music, as it comes with a multitude of different cognitive benefits that enrich your mind.
For one, jazz relieves stress. Music has a direct effect on our hormones, which is why the typical music enthusiast relies on music to lead the motions of their day. With the heart synced to the rhythms pulsating through our ear drums, it is no wonder we become sad when listening to slower, more depressing songs; or the opposite, as we become overjoyed by feelings of excitement and energy when listening to more upbeat, positively stimulating songs. This is because our hearts and our brains are intrinsically connected.
Klemm adds that stress is the “arch-enemy of memory ability,” and so to reduce stress levels while engaging in highly concentrated activities, like studying, is extremely powerful to the end result. Therefore, subjects are much more likely to retain the information in the environment of jazz’s soothing agents.
Secondly, jazz stimulates the mind. As your brain receives messages from the environment, it releases chemicals to react accordingly. Following the influence of jazz, your brain tends to mimic the rhythmically improvisational patterns, which might pop and jerk at times in acute measures. The activity in the music therefore influences increased hyperactive neural stimulation.
It is the back-and-forth playing, the communication of instruments, that activates areas of the brain correlated with the syntax of language. Music is of course the universal language, but even your brain picks up on what jazz is putting down.
Furthermore, jazz boosts creativity. With decreased stress levels and increased patterns of language, the brain is more susceptible to using its imagination to complete logical thought processing. According to researcher Beth Belle Cooper, ambient noise improves creativity; she continues to say that the type of music, and the volume at which you listen to it, is also critical to improving creativity. She states, “moderate noise levels increase processing difficulty, which promotes abstract processing, leading to higher creativity.” So, by forcing our brains to work a little harder than normal, we can lead our minds to think even more outside the box. This expanded attention welcomes creativity beyond normal standards.
So the next time you desire concentration, focus, and acuity, you might benefit from the improvisationally-driven, directionally-unexpected, soothing elements of jazz music.