Music, more than any other art form, has the power to initiate an immediate emotional response from deep within. Everyone has a song that makes them want to cry, or a pumping melody they can’t help but dance to. But can it work the other way around? In other words rather than waiting to be emotionally moved by music can we just switch on a song and seek a required emotion response? Can we use what we listen to in order to influence our moods? Will pressing play on an uplifting  and cheery song actually cheer us up? Will listening to something rousing motivate us?

According to research conducted by psychologist Adam Sankowski at the Harvard Medical School we can use music in our everyday lives. His studies show that by putting on the right soundtrack at the right time we can actually sleep better, exercise harder and work more productively. We can match the music to the mood we want to have. Psychologists have failed to identify a music-specific area of the brain. It seems the entire brain is music-specific. Music can be incredibly powerful as a result.

So what should you play this weekend? Maybe you’re on your way to after-work drinks? Research suggests that you can get yourself in the right mood by selecting some of your favourite songs from your teenager years. It’s even better if the songs have some personal connection with those you are about to meet. A 2009 study by the University of California found that brain regions linked to autobiographical memories and emotions are activated by familiar music. Songs can re-ignite positive emotions because they are associated with positive memories and positive people. So when you meet your friends this weekend maybe you should sing some of the songs from your happier days together during your school years. Have a great weekend

(C) Shane Martin