There is no real threat or danger when listening to music. It is even one of the most common resorts that people would relish during stress times. It reinforces a person's mood and affects one's overall mental state - a true statement as supported by the findings of a recent study.
Neural responses to different types of music affect the emotion regulation of a person. Clinical music therapists know that through music, they may alleviate symptoms brought by mood disorders like depression. However, some people also listen to music for different personal reasons, and not much about its effects are well understood.
Thus, researchers from various institutes investigated the relationship that exists among mental health, music listening habits and emotional reactions to music by analyzing a combination of neuroimaging and behavioral data.
"Some ways of coping with negative emotion, such as rumination, which means continually thinking over negative things, are linked to poor mental health," says principal author Emily Carlson, a music therapist, as quoted in the press release.
The author noted that their team conducted the research in order to know whether such negative effects are also evident in some styles of music listening. They evaluated numerous measures that indicate the state of mental health of person such as anxiety, depression and neuroticism. The participants also reported the style in which they listened to music to control their emotions.
With the data gathered, the researchers found that anxiety and neuroticism were more evident in participants who listen to sad or aggressive music to release negative emotions, especially in males. Dr. Suvi Saarikalio, co-author of the research, said that such kind of music listening does not guarantee negative moods to be improved and just leads to their release.
Another finding also shows that males who listened to music in the purpose to express negative emotions had less activity in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), while females showed more. These results suggests that there really is an association between music listening styles and mental function.
With their findings, researchers hope to encourage music therapists to talk with their patients about their music listening styles and help them come up with the best way to improve their mental health.
The study appears in the online journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.