Music is everything. I couldn’t imagine my life without it. Recent studies have shown that music floods the brain with a chemical called dopamine, the chemical in the brain associated with pleasure, motivation and reward. However what is unique to music is that it is an abstract reward, as opposed to a tangible reward such as eating or sleeping, that causes the release of dopamine. We’ve traditionally considered abstract rewards to be processed on a more cognitive level, but this shows us that our ancient reward circuits can be involved. More fascinating is the latest research in the past year showing that even sad music can lift your mood, while other studies suggest music can boost happiness and reduce anxiety. Anther study found that people who listened to music before, during or after surgery experienced less pain and anxiety, compared to patients who did not listen to music. And the music listeners didn’t even need as much pain medication. So overall music is the best thing ever.
Which leads me to this crazy disorder I came across called amusia. Amusia is a musical disorder that is a defect in processing pitch so that music sounds annoying or unpleasurable. Some have coined this term tone deafness. What is even more bizarre about this condition is that individuals struggle with recognizing highly familiar melodies but have no difficulty in recognizing the voices of well-known speakers. While amusia is a pitch-processing deficit, it does not seem to include speech intonation because pitch variations in speech are very coarse compared with those used in music. Currently, no forms of treatment have proven effective in treating amusia. So unlike a person who is deaf and simply can not hear, these individuals do and find it intolerable. And all I can think is how completely grateful I am to have this sense.
Music changed my life. I started with the piano as a child eventually leading into several musical instruments over my lifetime. My appreciation for all types of music stems from my musical studies. Following the Grateful Dead around as a teenager shaped my young adult life immeasurably which leads me to consider who would I be if I had been born with this disorder….hmmmmmm perhaps I would have started the yoga sooner. Gratefully dedicated, Namaste.