The subconscious mind is arguably the most complex part of the human body. Its purpose in the human body is to store and retrieve data and gives the human brain the unique ability to store an almost unmeasurable amount of data. The subconscious mind is also in charge of tasks that the body needs doing without having to consciously think about or homeostatic impulses. These homeostatic impulses include tasks such as keeping body temperature constant and keeping control of breathing and heart beat rates. Most people believe that the subconscious mind is completely under the control of the conscious mind but recently scientists have begun to realize that music can actually influence the subconscious.
Ronald Milliman’s study on the effect of music on the behavior of supermarket shoppers supports the idea that music with a slower tempo increases the desire of the shoppers to be more sociable and take their time while shopping. This is because of music’s ability to affect a person’s mood through their subconscious. One of the main tasks that the subconscious does is to set a comfort zone for you. If you’ve ever found yourself getting nervous or thinking twice about trying something then you’ve felt what your subconscious does when it is taken out of its comfort zone. Pushing yourself to venture out of your comfort zone causes results in your subconscious making you feel nervous or uneasy and increase your heart rate. According to Luciano Bernardi, a professor at the University of Pavia, Music has the ability to effect heart rate. “Slow-tempo music seemed to lower heart rate more when it followed a faster piece of music than if it came first.” (Bernardi f139) Bernardi’s results serves as an explanation for why Milliman’s study resulted in customers having a slower average pace of in-store traffic flow. As a person’s heart rat slows down, the person’s mood starts to become calmer. The shoppers who experienced the slower music tempo were on slower on average which supports the theory that the tempo of the music does have the ability to stimulate the part of the subconscious mind that deals with controlling a person’s heartbeat.
According to Diseren, who in his book The Influence of Music on Behavior, music is a stimulus that affects not only humans but all complex multicellular animals as well. In his studies, Diseren has found that music is an important part of biological evolution. This is because overtime the human race has used music to stimulate the subconscious. The Aztecs were arguably one of the most feared tribes in ancient Central America. The Aztecs were most known for their gruesome sacrifices to their gods wherein they would cut the heart out of a live human being. This gave them the image of being savage, blood-thirsty warriors.
But what most people don’t know is that the Aztecs had other, less gruesome, cultural rituals. Song and dance played a very important role in Aztecan culture. Before every sacrifice, everyone in the town would get together with their families and preform a ritual called the “sowing of the rattles” in which “The commoners had various kinds of rattles and small whistles, which were used in household worship.” (Adje) These rituals would increase the religious spirit of the Aztecan people. Diseren believes that the reason why music was especially important to these ritualistic religions because beliefs are stored in the subconscious mind. When the subconscious mind is stimulated by the music played during the rituals, it stimulates the part of the subconscious that is responsible for storing religious beliefs.
Music is often referred to by many different characterizations. Most people think of music as a type of entertainment or an art, but very few people think of music in a different way; a stimulant. Music has been proven to actually stimulate the brain and its processing power. According to Weinberger, who was previously mentioned, music can actually benefit from this stimulation. “Learning and performing music actually exercises the brain – not merely by developing music skills, but also by strengthening the synapses between brain cells.” (Weinberger 38) Synapses are the small gaps that connect one neuron to another. When a neuron receives a signal from a neighboring neuron in the form of neurotransmitters, the neuron then transfers the signal in the form an electrical impulse until it reaches the other side of the neuron where the electrical impulse triggers the release of the neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters travel to the next neuron across another synapse and the cycle starts all over. Whenever the human brain learns something new, new connection or synapse is created. If the synapse is not used, after a while the synapse begins to weaken and eventually degenerates. Weinberger explains that listening and learning to play music stimulates almost all of your brain, your synapses become stronger resulting in a stronger memory.