The Music We Listen to Actually Drives Evolution in a Surprising Number of Ways
We know music and emotion are connected, but neuroscience tells us why music is such an integral part of what makes us human.
The various milestones of my life are best explained by the soundtrack I was rocking to at the time. In fact, my growth as a person can be documented in great detail by exactly what artist resonated with me at which juncture. Joni Mitchell's and Bob Dylan’s thoughtful lyrics in college, recently the meandering strains of John Coltrane’s saxophone, the pop fun of Tennis, and the aching beauty of Sufjan Stevens, or the soothing comfort of the Beatles or Barbra Streisand, which immediately recall my childhood, each bringing up an emotion and saying, "This is who I am right now."
Science has a number of different takes on what attracts us to certain melodies and chords, and why we need music at all. A recent post on BBC attempts to answer some of these questions, and explains that singing and dancing in groups gives us a strong evolutionary advantage.
Neuroscience tells us why music is such an integral part of what makes us human.
According to neuroscience, the article says, dancing can blur our sense of separateness. This may be why when I’m seeing a live concert, my brain feels like it’s firing off billions of dopamine chemicals (because it is). There is something about a group experience, a we’re-all-in-this-together feeling, that makes me feel less like an individual person and more like part of a community — like there is something bigger than myself. Apparently listening to a song that is "chill-inducing" can lead to us to acting more altruistically, also, which makes sense. If music or dancing makes us feel a part of a bigger group, we want to help that group or tribe.
On the other hand, if you want to outsmart evolution's invisible hand, here's how:
On a monetary level, that may be why we all swoon at the Sarah McLachlan "Angel" puppy commercials, or donate to charity concerts. But in a bigger way, it could indicate why music that addresses our cultural problems resonates as much as it does, from Buffalo Springfield’s "For What it’s Worth" and Marvin Gaye’s "What’s Goin’ On" to the more recent social commentary of Kendrick Lamar.
We feel close to artists who talk about the world we live in, because through their music and lyrics we connect to the very group/society they are observing; they show us that we are all a part of the same thing. Feeling connected, part of a tribe, and like we are contributing to a tribe, are basic and primal human emotions that are absolutely necessary to our survival. To quote an oft-covered Rihanna song, "Please don’t stop the music."
PHOTO CREDIT: iStock
Antimicrobial resistance is growing worldwide, rendering many "work horse" medicines ineffective. Without intervention, drug-resistant pathogens could lead to millions of deaths by 2050. Thankfully, companies like Pfizer are taking action.
- Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
- As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
- If antibiotics become ineffective, common infections could result in hospitalization or even death. Life-saving interventions like cancer treatments and organ transplantation would become more difficult, more often resulting in death. Routine procedures would become hard to perform.
- Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
- By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.
No, the Syrian civil war is not over. But it might be soon. Time for a recap
- The War in Syria has dropped off the radar, but it's not over (yet)
- This 1-minute video shows how the fronts have moved – and stabilised – over the past 22 months
- Watching this video may leave you both better informed, and slightly queasy: does war need a generic rock soundtrack?
Sarco assisted suicide pods come in three different styles, and allow you to die quickly and painlessly. They're even quite beautiful to look at.
Death: it happens to everyone (except, apparently, Keanu Reeves). But while the impoverished and lower-class people of the world die in the same ol' ways—cancer, heart disease, and so forth—the upper classes can choose hip and cool new ways to die. Now, there's an assisted-suicide pod so chic and so stylin' that peeps (young people still say peeps, right?) are calling it the "Tesla" of death... it's called... the Sarco!
Entrepreneur and author Andrew Horn shares his rules for becoming an assured conversationalist.
- To avoid basing action on external validation, you need to find your "authentic voice" and use it.
- Finding your voice requires asking the right questions of yourself.
- There are 3-5 questions that you would generally want to ask people you are talking to.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.