Everyone can appreciate a good song even, new research finds, your genes. A study from the University of Helsinki reports that music enhanced (up-regulated) or diminished (down-regulated) the effects of certain genes among people with musical experience. Music affected genes related to learning, memory, and neurodegeneration, among others. The study furthers scientific understanding of how music affects people and how music appreciation may have evolved.
The researchers evaluated how listening to music impacts people on a molecular level. For the study, musically experienced and musically inexperienced people listened to a 20-minute classical music piece: Mozart’s violin concert, No. 3 in G-major, K. 216.
For the musically experienced, listening to the music selection up-regulated gene activity involved in dopamine secretion and transport, synaptic neurotransmission, learning, and memory. One of the genes most enhanced by the music was a known risk gene for Parkinson’s disease that is located in the strongest linkage region of musical aptitude. Listening to music down-regulated genes that mediate neurodegeneration.
The researchers note that “The effect was only detectable in musically experienced participants, suggesting the importance of familiarity and experience in mediating music-induced effects.”
These findings suggest that listening to music could improve cognitive function and limit the risk for certain neurodegenerative diseases. It could also lead to new insights in music therapy. The researchers point out that the results may suggest a shared evolutionary background in music perception across different species.
This open-access research is available on Peer J.
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