How Music Playlists Can Enhance Your Emotions & Memory

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

In this episode, Dr. Daniel Amen is joined by Barry Goldstein, the composer of the new audio program, Feel Better Fast and Make It Last. Daniel and Barry discuss the amazingly practical uses that musical playlists have for self-targeting emotional responses and improving the amount of detail in long-term memory. They also give tips for creating your own playlists so you can trigger your own feelings of well-being anytime, anywhere.


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Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. Here we teach you how to win the fight for your brain to defeat anxiety, depression, memory loss, ADHD and addictions.
Dr. Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics where we've transformed lives for three decades using Brain SPECT Imaging to better target treatment and natural ways to heal the brain. For more information, visit
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD where we produce the highest quality nutraceutical products to support the health of your brain and body. For more information, visit
Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome back. I'm here with Barry Goldstein, the creator of our new album, Feel Better Fast and Make it Last, based on the principles of my new book with the same title. Barry has also created the Brain Warrior's Way and our album, Music for Bright Minds which 35 weeks on Billboard's New Age Chart, so we're thrilled with that.
In the book I talk about how people can purposefully change their state from sad to happy, or from spaced out to focused, or from anxious to relaxed just by the music they choose. So what we want our listeners to do is create their own playlist that will help change their state. Now we want them to use our music, right? But, for me, I was just sharing with you my playlist, and I'm a huge Beach Boy fan.
Barry Goldstein: I love the Beach Boys too.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Good Vibrations, I think, is one of the most creative pieces of music that-
Barry Goldstein: We can have a whole podcast on that.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... ever made. I also love, I Can Only Imagine by MercyMe or Smooth, Santana.
Barry Goldstein: By Santana, yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: In fact, I was talking about Tana earlier, and she's more rock and roll girl. I'm more classical music person. So we're fussing on our wedding song, but we compromised, and so it starts off with this beautiful song, it's also on my playlist, by Celine Dion and Andre Bocelli, The Prayer.
Barry Goldstein: That's a gorgeous song.
Dr. Daniel Amen: We start in this, it's not a waltz, but this very sweet dance to that music, and then it transitioned into Santana's Smooth song. It's really cool how that goes.
Barry Goldstein: That's great.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So whenever I hear it, my brain connects the music to something that is meaningful, that is joyful.
Barry Goldstein: Absolutely.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I also love the meaning of the Eagle's song, Get Over It because so many people blame other people for the problems in their life, and the music's awesome. But the meaning works for me, as well as Eric Clapton's. Change the World because that's what you and I are trying to do. Judy Collins' Amazing Grace, Neil Diamond's America. And to show you how really old I am, What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong.
Barry Goldstein: It's a great song.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And, of course, for me it's If I Only Had a Brain from The Wizard of Oz.
Talk to us about how certain pieces of music that people choose can actually change their day. I like what you said is, "You can develop your own program."
Barry Goldstein: That's right. Yeah, and in my book I talk about creating playlists. Not just a full playlist of 10 songs that you like, but targeting certain emotions. Like a playlist for gratitude. Mine would have Sly and the Family Stone, Thank You for Letting Me Be Myself, or Dido, Thank You, a instrumental song on it. It doesn't have to be one genre, but it's all geared toward a specific emotion that you are targeting for. Yours is never going to be the same as mine.
And what we're learning more about preferred music and creating playlists like that, it's becoming lifelines in conditions like Alzheimer's. I lecture in colleges as well, and I say, "I want you all to pick your song right now, your happy song. One song that changes your state." When they all do I say, "I want you to remember this song because in 60 years from now when you're 80 years old, this song might be a lifeline to you."
I explain to them that that is what's going on in homes now where Alzheimer's patients, they're asking their relatives, "What songs did he like to listen to when he was younger?" And they're creating these playlists that are taking people out of those states where they're literally nonresponsive into being active again.
So they might have asked them "What were you wearing for Christmas 15 years ago?" He would never remember, but when they play these songs that he loved and now he says, "Wow, I remember this song. It reminds me of what I was wearing 20 years ago for Christmas." So it creates new pathways that open up and allow us to access the memories where we might not have been able to do that through traditional methods.
There's a great video if you have a chance to watch it online, if you type in, Henry and Alzheimer's, they show this.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Henry and Alzheimer's?
Barry Goldstein: Henry and Alzheimer's, just type it in. They show a man literally down like this, and they ask him his relative which songs he listened to. And they create these playlists for him where he's awakening, and Oliver Sacks, a neuroscientist, was involved in that project. It's just amazing.
I lectured to doctors, and I said, "If I would have showed you this video and asked you beforehand, "What do you think got him from this state the other state, would you have answered me music?" None of them would say, yes, to that. No one would have guessed that music could have taken someone out of that state.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So music is powerful. Use it.
Barry Goldstein: And preferred music-
Dr. Daniel Amen: Use it, preferred music.
Barry Goldstein: Your music that you love is very powerful.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So it's not a playlist I necessarily designed for them except our music, and many people love it, but something that is meaningful to you.
Barry Goldstein: Correct.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Stay with us. We're going to wrap this up when we come back.
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