The Kind of Music You Hear Affects You

From a study by Xu F, Cai R, Xu J, Zhang J, and Sun X:

GluR2, a major subunit in AMPA receptor, plays an important role in brain functional activity. We studied the effect of music exposure during development on the expression level of GluR2 proteins in the auditory cortex (AC) and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) of SD rats. Rats were divided into three groups, Music1 (exposed to Nostalgy) group, Music2 (exposed to Wishmaster) group, and control (no music exposure) group. For music exposure groups, rats were exposed to music from postnatal day (PND) 14, and the expression levels of GluR2 proteins were determined at PND 28, 42 and 56. For the control group, the expression levels of GluR2 proteins were determined at PND1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 14, 21, 28, 42, and 56. Results showed an age-dependent expression of GluR2 proteins in control rats. In AC, exposure to Music2 dramatically increased the expression of GluR2, while exposure to Music1 had no effect. In ACC, we found remarkable discrepancies in time-dependent expression of GluR2 between music exposed rats and control rats. These results indicate that exposure to music can modify the expression level of GluR2 protein in AC and ACC [emphasis added].

[Note: I was not able to isolate “Wishmaster,” however I think I found “Nostalgy.”]

black and white drawing of pied piper leading rats around the corner of a building; piper thinks to himself, "four years at Juilliard for <em>this</em>?"

New Yorker Cartoon
Leo Cullum

GluR2 is a gene that affects how we use glutamate, an important neuro-transmitter. Here we see that rats exposed to different types of music had different levels of GluR2, especially in the rats exposed to music vs. those not exposed to music, and that the kind of music that the rats heard affected their levels.

Also important is that this was changed after birth. Biology is a lot more fluid than we used to think, so the next time you turn on your radio, take a moment to think: is this the kind of music that is going to improve your brain functionality, or should I listen to something different?

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