Your New Favorite Music Is Heavy on the Science

Issue # 
February 6, 2024

Music is important for health. Not because of something mystical or a placebo effect, but because it has very real science-backed effects on brain functions that feature prominently in mental health and illness. 

Spiritune’s lead neuroscience advisor, Dr. Daniel Bowling (neuroscientist and researcher at Stanford School of Medicine), just got his latest paper on “Biological Principles for Music and Mental Health” published in a top journal, Translational Psychiatry. The paper calls out the biological foundations supporting the integration of music into healthcare systems and wellness practices, and provides insights into the advances in music research from neuroscience, psychology, and psychiatry, and reviews key concepts and evidence of clinical benefits. 

In his paper, Bowling highlights the importance of advancing new standardized music-based interventions, because they can address mental health needs in an “accessible, easy-entry, and low-risk approach.”

“Music is poorly conceived as a panacea,” Bowling writes, going on to explain that it is music’s specific effects on “human neurobiological functions that feature prominently in mental illness” that gives it such “important potential in treating their disorder.”

At Spiritune, we’re not just an app or a soothing soundscape. A nuanced deployment of music with deliberate variation can really target mental health symptoms, ranging from anxiety to depressive states to loneliness to tension. And thanks to our advisors like Bowling, we’re deepening the research and helping people understand that there’s true science and clinical application to music as medicine.

“Lots of people already use music to help them, choosing purposely from a carefully curated (and maintained) music collection,”  Bowling says. “Remember your CD binder from high school? But not everyone is lucky enough to have held onto this, and most modern streaming systems are designed to supply music that grabs attention and stimulates rather than soothes.”

Despite primarily being considered entertainment, music affects us in profound ways, modulating our brain’s emotional, attentional, social, and reward subsystems in ways that align closely with central aspects of how we feel and perform, things like our mood, cognition, pleasure, and how we relate to others.

In short, the science is there, and it matters a lot when it comes to developing evidence-based frameworks for creating—and listening—to music for specific goals (i.e.cultivating focus or reducing anxiety). 

Our users at Spiritune are confirming that. A full 91% of our users across the globe report they reach their desired emotional and cognitive goals with Spiritune's science-backed music listening programs. We believe in better mental health, and are working to expand music's psychiatric applications and benefits into new integrated healthcare paradigms and wellbeing practices everyday.

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