The Psychology of Music in the Pandemic

The Psychology of Music in the Pandemic

Through the pandemic, people have been finding new and unique ways to connect with others. People are compelled to create new connections while being far apart. However, people have been making the best of their forced isolation through an avenue that has allowed them to connect with others, music. During the pandemic in New York, thousands of people have turned to deck concerts in which neighbors play music for one another from their own houses, sharing their musical passions for all to hear, spreading joy even through unprecedented isolation. The collective need to make music and use it as a  unique avenue of connection has caused neuroscientists and psychologists to ask: Why do we turn to music in crisis and how does music affect our brains?

The question of how music affects our brains has seen a resurgence in research since the start of the pandemic, due to the increasing regularity to turn to music in times of hardship. What neuroscientists found was the music is a form of stimulation within our brains in that it activates the neural motor system (center for movement) whenever we hear music. Additionally, neuroscientists found that music is entertainment for our brains, meaning that it allows for ongoing brain activity to align in time with the beat of the music, which provokes us to get up and move and additionally creates dopamine in the brain when such occurs. 

However, what the neuroscientists found most interesting and the most likely cause of the turn to music in a time of isolation is the interpersonal connections people are able to make through music. The activation in the neural motor system resulting from music and the synchronicity in the brain patterns of people when they hear music allows us to feel in sync with one another and will even cause synchronicity in movements and actions no matter how far apart people might be. The drive for interpersonal synchronicity that occurs through music is what neuroscientists have related to the reason why people feel the need to make music during the pandemic and a time of isolation. Music allows for people to feel connected and in sync with one another despite how far apart they may be. 

During a time of isolation and distancing from the ones you love, it feels as if social bonding is what we all desire more than ever, and the turn to music has made it possible for thousands of people to create new, and unique connections even when in the most isolated of times.