By: John Powell | The science of songs: how does music affect your body chemistry? | Neuroscience | The Guardian
Classical music makes shoppers buy more. Gentle tunes can cure insomnia. How? Writer, composer and science lecturer John Powell explains
Like many music lovers I’ve always had a fascination withthe emotional power. How can a combination of sounds make all the hairs on your arms stand on end, or make you cry? I’ve always enjoyed reading newspaper and magazine articles about the psychological effects of music, but apart from the general conclusion that “music is magical”, they rarely provide any scientific answers.
But there are answers as to why music has such power over us. Since the middle of the 20th century, music psychologists have been carrying out a wide range of fascinating research into how our brains and bodies respond to music – but most of this has been relayed to us in formal scientific language, so I thought it would be a good idea to gather together the most interesting facts and theories from this large body of work and present them in plain language for the general reader.
Professors North and Hargreaves put music speakers on the top shelf of an end-of-aisle wine display in a supermarket to see if different sorts of music could influence the choices we make. The display consisted of four shelves, each of which had a French wine on one side and a German wine on the other. The wines on each shelf were matched for price and sweetness/dryness so there was a fair competition between the two countries.
Then all they had to do was change the music occasionally and monitor which wines were bought when each type of music was playing.