March 17, 2015

Listening to classical music fine-tunes genes responsible for brain functions

Music for the mind. Finnish violinist Linda Cullberg Lampenius performs with Schoenbrunn Palace Orchestra Vienna in 2011.
Music for the mind. Finnish violinist Linda Cullberg Lampenius performs with Schoenbrunn Palace Orchestra Vienna in 2011.
MARTTI KAINULAINEN / LEHTIKUVA

A pioneering Finnish study headed by the University of Helsinki has determined how classical music affects brain molecules.

Participants of the study listened to W.A. Mozart’s 20-minute violin concert Nr 3, G-major, K.216. Both musically experienced and inexperienced participants showed enhanced activity of genes involved in dopamine secretion and transport, synaptic neurotransmission, learning and memory.

The music also had a significant affect on those more experienced with classical music. These individuals experienced a down-regulation of genes associated with neurodegeneration, suggesting “the importance of familiarity and experience in mediating music-induced effects,” according to researchers.

Aside from new information regarding the molecular genetic background of music perception and evolution, the findings could lead to further insights related to the molecular mechanisms underlying music therapy.

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