Music, they say, is the universal language. Even if you don’t understand the words to a song and even if you don’t know what a singer is trying to communicate, it’s nevertheless capable of both entertaining and inspiring, of pumping you up or inspiring deep emotions. There’s even research to suggest that music has actual, measurable psychological benefits.
- Enhancing cognitive performance. Particularly in older adults, background or ambient music can improve both processing speed and memory. Even more interesting, music can act as a powerful learning tool, both used as background noise and as a mnemonic device.
- Stress reduction. As anyone who’s ever been to a massage parlor will tell you, the right music can easily cause you to drift off to sleep. Relaxing tunes can also go a long way towards making you less anxious or stressed. And the right song can improve motivation, mood, and even workout performance.
- Weight loss. It might sound almost absurd, but research suggests that calming, mellow music can actually function as an appetite suppressant, particularly when combined with dim lighting.
- Pain management. In a study of fibromyalgia patients, it was found that those who listened to music for at least an hour a day experienced considerable pain reduction.
- Improved sleep. In addition to improving cognitive function, classical music may also help people suffering from insomnia with their sleep.
In short, the benefits of music therapy from a psychological perspective are well-documented. But what does any of that have to do with hearing health, exactly? More than you’d think.
The brain plays a critical role in hearing, and its auditory center is responsible for processing each and every sound that passes through our eardrums. As such, there are multiple psychological disorders that can, as a side effect, cause hearing impairment, such as misophonia (sound sensitivity) and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
Through music therapy, patients suffering from neurological issues can be gradually re-introduced to certain sounds and pitches, which can in turn slowly help them overcome their disorder.
For patients experiencing general hearing loss, music therapy can help them retrain their ears, allowing them to better distinguish certain sounds. This is especially valuable for patients who are trying to adjust to a hearing aid or those for whom the impairment is relatively recent.
Finally, hearing loss often goes hand-in-hand with significant emotional and psychological effects. Music therapy can help. Through it, a patient can navigate the complex emotions they’re experiencing, reducing their stress, and improving their mood in the process.
Hearing impairment and hearing loss can be both incredibly stressful and incredibly debilitating. Music therapy can go a long way towards helping cope with that. More importantly, it can assist with the cognitive side of hearing, allowing you to better understand, distinguish, and comprehend the auditory world around you.
About the Author:
Pauline Dinnauer is the VP of Audiological Care at Connect Hearing, which provides industry-leading hearing loss, hearing testing, and hearing aid consultation across the US.