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The Neuroscience of Music Motivation: How Music Inspires Us to Be Our Best Self

Here at Anderson Music Therapy Services, we believe in using music therapy to empower our clients so they can overcome barriers and live their best, most fulfilling lives!

We know that through creative arts, we can support growth. Why?

Because we've seen again and again that music is motivating and unlocks emotions! Let's take a look at some of the science behind the qualities of music that support us in empowering clients to reach their goals.


Music Lights Up the Whole Brain!

We've learned through scientific research that music activates many parts of the brain. Not only this, but music can activate multiple areas of the brain, like the auditory cortex, cerebellum, and the limbic system, all at the same time!

a woman doctor looking at brain scans on a computer monitor

Experts have studied this phenomenon by having accomplished musicians and rappers improvise on their instrument while lying down inside a functional MRI. Through these types of studies, we've learned not only that music is engaging multiple areas of the brain but it can be used to get the brain working more efficiently by strengthening neural pathways and even creating new motor pathways!

For these reasons, music is effective in engaging our attention.

Making music with mom, child, and music therapist
Our team at Anderson Music Therapy

Music Is Tied to Our Emotions.

Have you ever used music to relax or improve your mood? What about choosing to listen to a "sad" song when you feel sad or a "happy" song when you're happy? Music supports us across a range of emotions.

We often choose music that matches or improves our mood because music activates areas in the brain that are tied to our emotions.

Areas of the brain, like the limbic system and hippocampus, are associated with emotions and, when we engage in music, these areas are activated. That's why a meaningful song can instantly remind us of the people, feelings, or place that we associate with that song.

Listening to music also triggers a release of hormones, like dopamine, that can make us feel good! Studies have shown that not only is dopamine released when we listen to a preferred song, but it may be released as often as each beat of that song! The physiological impact that music has on the brain is another reason that music is motivating.


Give it a try!

Listen to one of these playlists and check in with how you feel after reading this blog:

Music Is Structural & Full of Patterns.

Where would your brain take you if you heard Queen's "We will, we will ________ you! ________ you!"

Instantaneously, your mind is probably screaming "ROCK YOU!"


Because the structure that the music provides allowed us to anticipate what comes next. The same thing happens with songs as simple as "Old MacDonald". This anticipation motivates us to engage with the musical experience we're having.

Another benefit to the qualities of repetition, rhythm, and melody is that they provide predictability and create a successful atmosphere for absorbing information. When our brain looks for patterns, such as the patterns we create in music, it makes information easier to encode and remember.

Female Music Therapist playing guitar kneeling in front of a female client.


The effects of music on the brain empower us to be our best self!

Isn't it great to know that there are evidenced based therapies out there that can be motivating and support the growth you're looking for?

If you're ready to overcome barriers in your day to day life and locate a music therapist near you, schedule a free consultation today with Noel at Anderson Music Therapy.

Schedule a free consultation button.

Written by Kristin Wright, MT-BC

A music therapist smiling

For more information, check out the following articles:


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