The Science Of How Our Bodies Respond To Music

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

In this episode, Dr. Daniel Amen is joined by music producer Barry Goldstein for a discussion on the role music can play in brain health. Barry describes how his journey in the music industry led a surprising revelation, and how this discovery radically transformed his approach to musical compositions, such as those featured in the new Feel Better Fast Audio Program.


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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: Hi, welcome. We actually have a very special guest, and a special week of podcasts because we're going to talk about your brain on music, and how important. I'm here with my friend Barry Goldstein, who has won many awards, who's also a best-selling author of The Secret Language of the Heart. He's worked with rock icons, New York Time's best-selling Authors. He's also worked with medical experts over the last 25 years. Barry, tell our audience about why, as a musician, and then later as a producer, you really got involved in the healing power of music?
Barry Goldstein: Well, it's been a long and fun path, and one that I never really expected. I'm sure you probably have some similarities. When we have a passion for something, sometimes it just opens up and takes its own path. I was working as a music producer in New York, and really under a lot of stresses with deadlines, and commitments, and was kind of losing my love of music because it was becoming a job for me.
I started to take these longer journeys, where the music wasn't as formatted. I decided to do some research online, and I found that our heart is at a relaxed state at about 60 beats per minute. Knowing that our heart is our rhythm center of our body, and that music also has a tempo and a metronome to it, so what would happen if I combined those two theories and targeted my own heart at a relaxed state during these musical pieces?
That's really all I did, was take the metronome at 60 beats per minute, and I started taking these hour long journeys. Thinking, "No one is going to listen to these. This is just for my own healing process of becoming less stressed out in the music business." What I found was, was that I was moving to these meditative states while I was composing. That, instead of composing with music, I was more like decomposing with it. My own anxieties, and my own stresses were starting to lessen through that process. I ended up playing those for friends who said, "Wow, you have to put these out there to other people, because they're really great." We started getting testimonials from people when I started putting them out, that they were using them in dentist offices to relax more, that they were using them with their parents who were going through hospice, you know, all these amazing ways.
That really peaked my interest, and researching more what was happening to those people when they were listening to the music. That really led to me writing the book, The Secret Language of the Heart.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Which, is a gorgeous book.
Barry Goldstein: Thank you.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It's loaded with research, and on how you can use music to enhance your mind.
Barry Goldstein: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Daniel Amen: Now, a long time ago ... Goodness, more than 30 years ago I learned about this concept of entertainment.
Barry Goldstein: Exactly.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Which, means your brain picks up the rhythm in the environment. I've actually used audio, and visual stimulation-
Barry Goldstein: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... As a treatment for some of my patients who have anxiety issues, or they have depression issues, or they have focus issues. A couple of years ago we got together, and we created our first album-
Barry Goldstein: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... The Brain Warrior's Way Music.
Barry Goldstein: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yes.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Which, debuted at number two on billboards, new age chart.
Barry Goldstein: Yes, mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Daniel Amen: Then, last year we released music for Bright Minds, and 35 weeks-
Barry Goldstein: 35 weeks on billboard, that's right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... On billboards new age chart. I mean, people just loved it, and have said just amazing things about it.
Barry Goldstein: Yeah. I think it shows us to where we are now in our culture, where people are really wanting these tools. For a CD that is about brain health, right? And, improving your brain to appear, and cross over into the music business side of it, shows that there's a need for it. That's really what I'm excited about, is filling that need for people. Because, music is so powerful.
Dr. Daniel Amen: There's actually science behind that.
Barry Goldstein: There's a lot of science behind it.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Let's talk about that.
Barry Goldstein: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Daniel Amen: That, there's science that shows that music can help memory.
Barry Goldstein: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Daniel Amen: That, music can help your mood. That, music can help with focus. It's based on this concept of entrainment.
Barry Goldstein: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Daniel Amen: That, your brain picks up the rhythm in the environment. There's a new study I talk about in my new book, Feel Better Fast, and Make it Last. That is, if people listen to certain types of music, like The Beach Boys Good Vibrations.
Barry Goldstein: Uh huh, mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Daniel Amen: For just 12 minutes a day, and they had the intention of being happier.
Barry Goldstein: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Daniel Amen: That, after 12 weeks they were significantly happier. But, just having the intention alone, without the music, didn't work. Well, how exciting is that?
Barry Goldstein: Yeah, and we can target mood, we can ... A lot of it is entrainment, but there's also different types of entrainment. There's heart entrainment as well, where we know that our heart can also adapt to the tempo of music, and synchronize with it. We're learning more and more that the relationship between the heart and the brain are also very important. As we're moving to those relaxed states, there was a study that just came out that showed that when you're moving to a relaxed state and slowing your breathing down, and you also have a positive emotion behind that. That, while that's happening, your brain waves are also moving in a slower pattern, and moving into more alpha brain states. So, they interact with each other, the heart and the brain, to create more balance. We can target that through different types of entrainment.
In our case, and in this new CD, we're using both. It's really a multitude of what I call a musical recipe, to attain those things that we're targeting. With entrainment, heart entrainment, brain entrainment, also the use of tempo, the use of different modes as well. The more that we are studying music, the more we're getting science behind all of these things.
Dr. Daniel Amen: From Feel Better Fast and Make it Last I write, "Music can sooth, inspire, improve your mood, and help you focus. It is important in every known culture on earth, with ancient roots extending back 250,000 years or more." In one study after evaluating more than 800 people, researchers found that people listen to music to regulate energy and mood, to achieve self-awareness, and improve social bonds. It provides social cement. Think of work and war songs, lullabies-
Barry Goldstein: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... National anthems. In your book, you actually reviewed the science of music, music stimulates emotional circuits in the brain, released oxytocin, the cuddle hormone. Which, can enhance bonding, trust, and relationship. Music, listening to music can create peak emotions, which increases the amount of dopamine, a specific neurotransmitter that is produced in the brain, and helps control the brains reward and pleasure centers. You also write music was used to assist patients with severe brain injuries, and recalling personal memories. Music helped patients to reconnect to memories they previously could not access-
Barry Goldstein: Mm-hmm (affirmative), mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... Beware however, that music you strongly like, or dislike can actually impair your focus.
Barry Goldstein: Right, because you're so focused on that music that the tasks that you're trying to complete, it can also distract you from it. There's an art really, to doing music for focus because you want it to be appealing, and you want people to like it. But, not so much that they're humming the melodies with it, not so much that they're tapping their feet to it. But, they're keeping their attention there with it. You want it to be able to kind of mask what's going on, like if you're using it in an office. You want it to be able to mask some of that office noise that's going on, that could be distracting to you. That's why a lot of-
Dr. Daniel Amen: But, if you like it or hate it too much, it'll actually distract you. So, stay with this.
Barry Goldstein: ... Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Daniel Amen: We're actually going to talk about you developing your own emotional rescue playlist. Stay with us.
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