The Effect of Music On Mood

The importance of understanding music’s impact on human health.

According to Spotify, there are 1,300 genres of music (1). These genres are categorized by different factors, such as their rhythms or themes. Whether you’re a rap fan or a country fan, an Apple Music user or a Spotify user, we all listen to music that helps us express our emotions and personalities. But have you ever wondered why certain songs have the power to lift your spirits, while others leave you feeling melancholy? The connection between music and mood is a subject that has intrigued researchers for decades. From the soothing melodies that calm our nerves to the energetic beats that invigorate our spirits, all types of music can evoke a wide range of emotions and shape our perception of the world around us. 

Music therapy program at Georgia College State University (1).

Listening to music has been a part of many people’s everyday lives for the past 250,000 years (2). When we listen to music, our brains become more active, leading to increased blood flow to various regions. Different areas of the brain, such as those involved in processing auditory information, emotions, and memory, receive more oxygen and nutrients as blood flow to these regions increases. In addition, the limbic system in our brains, which processes emotions and controls memory, is also affected when we listen to music (3). A study conducted at the Research Imaging Center at the University of Texas Health Science Center showed that when people listened to unfamiliar music, the limbic and paralimbic regions of the brain were activated. The limbic region controls memory and emotion, and the paralimbic region also regulates emotion and sensory information. Hearing specific qualities of the music that people enjoy, such as a rhythmic pattern, triggers positive emotions (4). If you have ever felt chills or shivers while listening to music, that may have resulted from dopamine sending triggers of pleasure throughout your body. If you have a song in your playlist that you can’t stop replaying, it’s because whenever your brain becomes familiar with a song, it releases dopamine upon hearing its first few notes. There have been a number of instances where patients who were recovering from brain injuries and lost their abilities to distinguish melodies could still recognize the emotions that they were feeling when they heard certain songs (3).

Brain scan on human brain before and after listening to music (2).

Music also plays a role in enhancing mental well-being. In certain schools and hospitals, “Music Therapy” is offered. Music Therapy can help people who suffer from depression, dementia, or Parkinson’s Disease. Certain parts of patients’ memory can be activated when hearing certain songs, which reminds them of their healthier selves, and ultimately helps them gain relief from incessant pain. Lee Bartel, PhD, a music professor at the University of Toronto, found that sound vibrations can help destabilize disorientation and reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. It was also found that listening to music was more effective for reducing anxiety before surgeries than taking prescription drugs. Along with its mental health benefits, researchers have found that playing music can have physical health benefits too. Playing music increases the production of antibody immunoglobulin A and natural killer cells that attack invading viruses, effectively boosting the immune system’s strength. The quality of one’s life and recovery from trauma can simply be improved by listening to animated music that excites the body (5).

Whether you’re a high school student listening to SZA’s newest album, or a patient in the ICU, music plays a vital role in keeping yourself healthy. It’s impossible to go a day in life without hearing the rhythms and beats of our world. People in different parts of the world, no matter what their identity is, can all connect through music. Relationships can be built off of shared musical interests. Genres like hip-hop, blues, and jazz have been used throughout history as outlets for artists and communities to call out social issues. Without music, our society would lack unity and identity.


  1. (2023). Music Genres Explained. Retrieved from,of%20sounds%2C%20patterns%20and%20structures.
  2. Schäfer, T., Sedlmeier, P., Städtler, C., & Huron, D. (2013). The psychological functions of music listening. Frontiers in Psychology. Retrieved from
  3. (2020) Why — and How — Music Moves Us. Retrieved from,that%20generate%20and%20control%20emotions.&text=The%20limbic%20system%2C%20which%20is,when%20our%20ears%20perceive%20music.  
  4. ‌Corneliu Toader, Calin Petru Tataru, Florian, I.-A., Razvan-Adrian Covache-Busuioc, Bratu, B.-G., Luca Andrei Glavan, Andrei Bordeianu, David-Ioan Dumitrascu, & Alexandru Vlad Ciurea. (2023). Cognitive Crescendo: How Music Shapes the Brain’s Structure and Function. Brain Sciences, 13(10), 1390–1390. Retrieved from
  5. Novotney, A. (2024). Music as medicine. Retrieved from