Brain Bits Show! Music, Dogs and the Brain

May 22, 2023

2020 and onwards truly has seen a tremendous increase in pet adoptions and rescues-namely dogs! Have you saved or adopted any dogs or were you already a dog owner? What are some neurological benefits for you and your dog? We will be talking about dogs and the powerful neurotransmitter called oxytocin. How do dogs affect our oxytocin and how do we affect the brain of a dog? Can our interaction with dogs actually increase oxytocin? Julie will be answering these intriguing questions! Also, she will be sharing what human intelligence looks like and how we can powerfully affect our level of intellect as we age if we work at it! Are you shy or are you just really creative? Why do we enjoy music so much and what is going on in our brain when we listen to it? How does music affect our buying habits? Lastly, how we can use this information to impact our life by applying it? Julie will share the answers to all these questions and more!

Let us talk about how amazing dogs truly are! They are incredibly loyal animals. Dogs will tune in to you and your emotions. It is amazing how they interact and understand our moods! The University of Helsinki did a study on dogs called the K-9 mind research project, the study found that oxytocin levels may be key to dogs love for humans! Oxytocin is a powerful hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain and regulates all kinds of emotions and feelings. It is a huge hormone that has a strong powerful influence and impact on the brain, it is what gives us the ability as a mother to bond with our baby. It also acts as an antidote to depressed feelings; it is what makes you feel good! When dogs interact with us, oxytocin is released in their brain. Studies are finding that a lot of what goes on in a dog’s brain is very similar to what goes on in a human brain. They are more like us than we thought before. The more oxytocin the brains influence is under, the better that dogs react to humans. Scientists found that friendly human and dog interactions releases oxytocin in both humans and dogs. Women and their dogs experience similar increases in oxytocin levels after 10 minutes of friendly contact. Also, the women’s oxytocin response is significantly related to the quality of bond they reported related to their pets. Dogs are profoundly good for us! If you are feeling down and you want some oxytocin release, get, or pet a dog and the dogs will love it too!

Music! It is very interesting how music affects people in general. There is a section of the brain that is connected to music in a remarkable way. If any of us are attached to a brain scanning machine, there is a certain section of our brain that will light up. If you have extensive music training, more portions of your brain will be dedicated to music. How does music affect our brain and why does it affect our brain? A study done in the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital has proven that it is possible to increase or decrease our enjoyment of music and our craving for it by enhancement or disruption of certain brain circuits and the way this communication takes place. There are certain portions of our brain that are highly devoted to the enjoyment of music as well as the anticipation, surprise, and reward aspect of music. Listening to music can change our mood significantly! If you are not feeling good, you can put on music to help yourself feel better. The New York University did a study entitled “Lively tunes boost sales in crowded stores.  They found that if a store is crowded, people tend to buy more if the music is fast paced rather than ballads. What kind of music was being played in a store greatly influenced shoppers. In an upbeat crowd, fast in-store music alleviates negative effects of high social density in customer spending. The more people in a store, the more that negative emotions are intensified. If you are dealing with a lot of crowds then you can put on your headset and play upbeat music to help you! Upbeat music did motivate customers to buy. Or you can listen to slow music in your headphones to calm the brain to keep you from impulse buying.

Third, we will learn about human intelligence and the flexibility of the brain. Some people are incredibly intelligent! People can develop high intelligence. At the University of Illinois, Aaron Barbay did a study of looking at brain dynamics properties and how its wired and how it affects the intelligence of the brain. Your brain processes lots of information, not just what you see but also your peripheral vision. As information to the brain increases, the brain becomes abstract and creates more neuro pathways. The prefrontal cortex is suggested to drive general intelligence but can also be activated and increased by thinking about things you are learning. New neural connections can be created when you continue to learn things. To support growing your intelligence, continue to learn new tasks! That will give you the ability to solve problems better and thus raise your overall intelligence. Never stop learning!

Are you shy or just simply creative? The University of Buffalo did an incredible study that shows how solitude can be good for your mental health. Usually when people see a person who spends time alone, they assume that they are either shy or antisocial. Really, that person may just be an introvert! People who tend to withdraw, tend to be afraid of anxiety or want less stimulus. However, there is a benefit to being alone. A lot of introverts are highly creative individuals and due to alone time, this group is unrelated to the negative of being alone but are really on the positive side of creativity. Try to understand and appreciate introverts! Their alone time is allowing their brains to be more creative. If you want to develop more creativity or solve problems, sometimes spending alone time or taking a workcation will help you to get past writers block or generates new ideas. Alone time can allow the brain to settle and think, boosting creativity. The brain is amazing and alone time can be too!

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