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WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC? Systems & Models STEAM Action Project Science Lab Report by CG


Question: What happens to our brain when we listen to music? Does it make us feel an emotion, does it bring back a memory, or something else?

Research: Music is a part of our daily lives. We use music as an effective tool such as listening to certain songs to motivate yis when were working out. Well in fact, when you listen to music, your nervous system reacts differently depending on the type of music you are listening to. For those who can listen to music, there is a direct connection from your ear to your brain. Depending of the type of music you are listening to, your emotions will change along with the music. Now, how to do you have that connection that allows what you’re listening to go into your brain? As you start listening to music, the auditory cortex is mainly responsible for taking the music you hear and parsing the most rudimentary features of the music, such as pitch and volume. It then works with the cerebellum to break down a stream of musical information into its component parts: pitch, timbre, spatial location and duration. That information is then processed by higher order brain structures, which analyze and broaden the music out into an experience. We then move on to those higher order brain structures. The cerebellum has connections with the amygdala, which is the brain's emotional center. It also had connections to the frontal lobe, which is heavily involved in planning and impulse control. It's processed by the mesolimbic system, which is involved in arousal, pleasure and the transmission of neurotransmitters like dopamine. This dopamine rush is the same we feel when eating a nourishing meal. It produces that indescribable feeling of "the chills" when we listen to a certain section of music (Gaver 2010). It is a proven fact that the brain is the last organ in the body to reach maturity and that it does not reach maturity during puberty. Everything younger people do, see, touch, and hear is going to make a larger impact than it would to someone who is younger. This fact bring us back to music and what does that have to do with anything? Well, because younger people's brain is yet to mature it is natural for younger people to take what they are listening and really ‘vibe’ to it. Another key factor that may make younger people rely on their emotions while listening to music is also because for a lot that is the only thing they can rely on. When you’re younger, you most likely have less memories and experiences than most adults. (inset author and year)

Hypothesis: My hypothesis is that younger participants will say what they’re feeling more than older participants will. According to my research, younger people are just more in tune with their feelings and they’re at that stage where their sensitivity is at a ultime high. Materials: Headphones Computer Table Chair Procedure: The procedure of my experiment starts out with my participants having a seat and getting comfortable. I will then give them headphones which is how they will listen to the songs. I have chosen 5 different songs from different genres and years. The list of songs in order are these; Day N’ Nite by Kid Cudi, Ultraviolence by Lana Del Rey, Aberdeen by Cage the Elephant, Chill Bill by Rob Stone, and In the Still of the Night by Jo Stafford. I will play each song for a minute and ask them to say the first word that pops into their head after the minute. This will all be explained to the participants before starting the experiment. Down below you will find the first part of my transcript, which is read at the very beginning of the experiment. Transcript Hello my name is CG, can you please state your name and age? (Record answers) I will now play five songs. Each song will be played for a minute and after that time is up you will right away say the first word that pops into your head. We will keep doing this until you’ve listened to all five songs. I will not tell you the name of the song or artist. Please let me know when you are ready (Start Testing). Once I have recorded their one word answers to all five songs, I would then continue with the second part of the transcript. Transcript

We will now go back and see the word you chose for each song. I will read the word to you and you will put that word in a category. The categories are feeling, memory, random, and other. If the word you said was said because it was tied to a feeling, you will pick then pick the category ‘feeling’. If the word was tied to a memory, you will then pick the category ‘memory’. If the word you picked was random, you will then pick the category ‘random’. If the word you chose doesn’t align with either of those categories, you will then pick the category ‘other’. Once I read their words out loud and they put it in one category I would have recorded it into the second part of the table. The table in which all these answers are recorded look like this: Song: Day N’ Nite by Kid Cudi

Name of Participant and age. (insert one word answer)

Categories: Feeling, Memory, Random, or other. (insert category)

Ultraviolence by Lana Del Rey



Aberdeen by Cage the Elephant



Chill Bill by Rob Stone



In the Still of the Night by Jo Stafford



Once I am done recording their one word answer and the category in which those words belong, the experiment would be finished and I would then thank them for being apart of my experiment and send them on their way. Details I had nine participants for my experiment with ages that ranged between 16 to 51. You will find all raw data by clicking on this. You will find their one word answers and the categories they put their one word answers in.

Analysis: The first song is a very upbeat, party song. Day N’ Nite by Kid Cudi was released in 2009, and was played very often on the radio, movies, and TV shows. What was interesting about this song is that six out of nice participants had a memory when listening to this song. The participants that had a connection to this song had words that correlated activities. The other participants either has chose the categories ‘feelings’ and ‘other’ but none choose the category ‘random’.

Down below you will find a pie chart that divides the answers into the four categories for Day N’ Nite by Kid Cudi. For this song in particular, ‘memory’ was the highest category regardless of age.

CG. First Song. (2019)

The second song unlike the first is a very slow, dark, emotional song. Ultraviolence by Lana Del Rey is a classic is you’re a Lana Del Rey fan and what we saw is that five out of nine people said that their word was correlated to the category in “feeling’. Four out of five of those participants were young but the other participant that also chose the ‘feeling’ category was fifty years old. Down below you will find a pie chart of the different categories chosen with the second song. But the category of ‘feeling’ was very prominent in this song and majority of those answers were from young people.

CG. Second Song. (2019)

The third song is Aberdeen by Cage the Elephant. This is a rock song that is very well known song of the bands. What I saw for this song was the same thing we saw for the first song and that was that six out of nine participants said their word was in connection to the category ‘feeling’. Because this song is very loud in both the instrument and voice. Another similarity as the first one was that no participants chose the category ‘random’. Down below you will find a pie chart that shows off the different answers and how both older and young people picked the category ‘feeling’ the most.

CG. Third Song. (2019)

The fourth song Chill Bill by Rob Stone is a song that was very popular among younger people, most likely those in middle school or high school in 2017. The song is a mixture between Indie, Rap, and Soul. What we saw for this song is that four out of nine participants chose the category ‘other’ and all four came from different ages. The two out of nine participants who chose the category ‘memory’ were younger participants and the other three participants all chose the category ‘feeling’. Down below you will find a pie chart that shows the different answers for categories and how the category ‘other’ won this round with both older and young participants.

CG. Fourth Song. (2019)

The final song In the Still of the Night by Jo Stafford is the only oldie in this list of songs. The song is also a classic romantic song that has been used in era films that also tend to be romantic films. Seven out of nine participants chose the ‘feeling’ category and six out of those seven were all younger participants. I would also like to point out the categories ‘random’ and ‘other’ did not show up for this song. Down below you will find a pie chart that shows the different categories the participants chose and how this song was the song that most got ‘feeling’ as a category.

CG. Fifth Song. (2019)

Conclusion: In conclusion, my hypothesis was wrong but not entirely. In my hypothesis I predicted that younger participants were going to choose the category ‘feeling’ more because of their biological reactions. However, after conducting the experiment the category ‘feeling’ was prominent in three songs out of five regardless of age. Both young and older participants had experienced a feeling while listening to the music. I expected the category of feeling to win, which it did and it did so with ages all over the spectrum which shows how much music can truly affect our mood. Works Cited:

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