Alter your genes by listening to classical music

Thomas McGregor

May 19th 2015

We’ve all heard the the varying benefits of listening to classical music. However, we now find scientific research that suggests that you can alter your genes by doing so. If this is true than listening to music can mean more than ever to the development and longevity of your brain. Furthermore, what we listen to in general has reached an entirely new hight in impertinence. Just as in what we put in our body effects our biology, so to what we listen to effects our brain.

A study by the University of Helsinki stated that even though listening to music is common in all societies, the biological determinants of listening to music are largely unknown. According to a this study, listening to classical music enhanced the activity of genes involved in dopamine secretion and transport, synaptic neurotransmission, learning and memory, and down-regulated the genes mediating neurodegeneration. Several of the up-regulated genes were known to be responsible for song learning and singing in songbirds, suggesting a common evolutionary background of sound perception across species. Additionally, a Finnish study group has investigated how listening to classical music has affected the gene expression profiles of both musically experienced and inexperienced participants. All the participants listened to W.A. Mozart’s violin concert Nr 3, G-major, K.216 that lasts 20 minutes.
Listening to music enhanced the activity of genes involved in dopamine secretion and transport, synaptic function, learning and memory. One of the most up-regulated genes, synuclein-alpha (SNCA) is a known risk gene for Parkinson’s disease that is located in the strongest linkage region of musical aptitude. SNCA is also known to contribute to song learning in songbirds. “The up-regulation of several genes that are known to be responsible for song learning and singing in songbirds suggest a shared evolutionary background of sound perception between vocalizing birds and humans,” says Dr. Irma Järvelä, the leader of the study. In contrast, listening to music down-regulated genes that are associated with neurodegeneration, referring to a neuroprotective role of music. “The effect was only detectable in musically experienced participants, suggesting the importance of familiarity and experience in mediating music-induced effects,” researchers remark.

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