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June 2023

Music, Memory, Mini Marsupials & Your Mind

(As you've undoubtedly noticed in other PJTnewsletters we are partial to alliteration)

We're starting you off with JOY.

(which as you've undoubtedly noticed Joy doesn't begin with "M" but is about music)

 First, read about the video

Second, play the video.

Third, read how your brain was impacted!

"Imagine what life would be like if lived, in May Sarton’s lovely phrase, with “joy instead of will.” That is what Beethoven imagined, and invited humanity to imagine, two centuries ago in the choral finale of his ninth and final symphony, known as “Ode to Joy” — an epochal hymn of the possible, half a lifetime in the making."


"In the spring of 2012, the Spanish city of Sabadell set out to celebrate the 130th anniversary of its founding with a most unusual, electrifying, and touchingly human rendition of Beethoven’s masterpiece, performed by a flashmob of 100 musicians from the Vallès Symphony Orchestra, the Lieder, Amics de l’Òpera and Coral Belles Arts choirs."


"Watching the townspeople — children with kites, elders with walkers, couples holding hands — gather to savor the unbidden music in a succession of confusion, delight, and ecstasy is the stuff of goosebumps: living proof that “music so readily transports us from the present to the past, or from what is actual to what is possible.”'





How Music Effects Your Brain

The power of music to support your mental wellbeing.

Just listening to a favorite song can lift your mood or bring back memories from long ago.


"Music has an immediate effect on us. It soothes us, inspires us, makes us happy, guides and directs us, validates our feelings and connects us to our deeply human needs and nature. The structure, rhythms, melodies, syntax, genres, lyrics of songs, a particular instrument, or even the voice of the singer speak to us in the language of humanity. We are wired for music. We bring the world into our bodies and brains through our senses."


At its core, we feel music—and now we are closer than ever to understanding why. One reason music has such an immediate impact on us is due to the way it is processed rapidly in the limbic system, the part of the brain which helps us experience emotions.

It's known that:

  • Mothers of newborns can reduce postpartum depression and bond more to their babies by singing to them 

  • When people with dementia sing they connect with memories not otherwise accessible to them. 


"As you listen to music the neurotransmitter dopamine is released in response to this pleasurable stimuli, and musical frisson occurred."

"Dopamine makes us feel good, and it also helps cells communicate better, as well as enhances focus, planning, and even helps us to think more clearly."  There are thousands of studies

about how music and sound impact our brains.

"Music is the most studied art forms, and researchers are now beginning to understand some of the ways music alters a complex physiological network of interconnected systems in the brain including the prefrontal frontal, visual cortex, the amygdala, hippocampus, auditory and sensory cortex, to name a few."

Both listening to music and making music can help all us heal both physically and mentally.


Read the full article:


 Inhale, Exhale, REMEMBER!

The Breath-Memory Connection

"Studies reveal that the rhythm of our breathing can influence neural activity, impacting cognitive functions such as emotional processing and memory recall."


"The most compelling evidence highlights that inhalation, particularly through the nose, can improve memory function. As this field of study emerges, these insights could lead to novel therapeutic approaches for cognitive decline and memory-related conditions."


  1. The rhythm of our breathing creates electrical activity in the brain, enhancing emotional judgment and memory recall, with this effect being most pronounced during inhalation through the nose.

  2. The amygdala and hippocampus, brain areas linked to emotion and memory, are significantly affected by the rhythm of breathing, suggesting that the act of breathing can modulate the functions of these regions.

  3. Deep, controlled breathing, often used in mindfulness practices, can improve working memory capacity, the kind of memory we use to hold and manipulate information over short periods.


    The fascinating relationship

    between breathing and memory function.


"Our breath influences our neural activity, which in turn, impacts our cognitive functions including attention, memory recall, and emotional processing.

The rhythm of our breathing creates electrical activity in the brain that contributes to the enhancement of emotional judgments and memory recall."


Christina Zelano at Northwestern University demonstrated studied breathing.

 "Zelano’s research team carried out a series of experiments involving human subjects and found that memory recall was significantly better during inhalation compared to exhalation. This effect was most pronounced when the subjects were breathing through their noses."


"The study showed that the rhythm of breathing can induce changes in the brain, enhancing the emotional judgment and improving memory recall.

Furthermore, the amygdala and the hippocampus, two brain regions linked to emotion, memory function, and smell, are significantly affected by the breathing rhythm."


Mindfulness and Meditation


"A study published in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology showed that mindfulness-based attention, which involves focusing on one’s breathing, increases the ability to maintain visuospatial information over short periods.

This suggests that deep, controlled breathing can improve working memory capacity, the kind of memory we use to hold and manipulate information in our minds over short periods."


". . . Understanding the impact of breathing on memory could have implications for interventions related to cognitive decline, stress, anxiety, and conditions such as ADHD and Alzheimer’s disease."


". .So next time you’re struggling to remember something, take a moment, take a deep breath, and see if it helps. It appears our breath holds more power over our brains than we might think."


Source: Neuroscience News

More of a VISUAL learning than an AUDITORY learning?

Just looking at this Mini Marsupial will bring you Joy.

(Take a deep breath and exhale through your nose to remember how

this teeeeeeny Ningbing makes you smile)


"The Ningbing was named for the Ningbing Station, where it was first collected in western Australia’s sparsely settled northern region. A rare creature, the Ningbing is only found across the Kimberley region of Australia and is quite difficult to spot."


"Males measure nine to 10 centimeters (4 inches) in body length, while females are generally a centimeter smaller. Their fat tails are slightly shorter than their body. Adults weigh between 15 and 25 grams, about the weight of your average toothbrush.  

They are thought to breed in June and give birth in late July, and they have been known to den in termite mounds."

Want to know more!

The Music of the Soul  

"Somehow, when we think of religion we automatically think of music.

  • How many churches do you know that don’t have a choir?

  • Monks still sing Gregorian chants.

  • Jewish Cantors have led their congregations in song forever, too.

  • Buddhists sing mantras to elevate their spirits and attain a meditative state.

  • Hindus sing ragas and Muslims improvise chants to say their prayers.

  • Baha’is love to sing prayers, quotations from the Baha’i teachings, and thousands of other Baha’i-inspired songs.

Humans love to raise their voices to praise God.  



Got Children, Grandchildren? 


Child research studies throughout primary and secondary schoolsdone by Dr. Anita Collins, an Australian educator, researcher and author, shows that music training increases all of the following areas:


  • Language acquisition: 1 year gain

  • Memory capacity: raise IQ by 7+ points

  • Language syntax: 1 year gain +

  • Numeracy skills: 1 year gain+

  • Attention skills: up to 2-year gain for pre-teens

  • Reading levels: up to 3-year gain in auditory processing

  • Student resilience: up to 16% increase

  • Listening skills: up to 2-year gain

  • Emotional stability and advanced executive function

  • Motor skills: up to 1 year gain


    Current scientific research tells us about the effect a mere 10 minutes of structured music learning every day at school can have on children 5-12 years old:

  • Higher processing speed

  • Improved memory for multiple instructions

  • Greater sensorimotor integration

  • Improved problem-solving skills, both analytical and creative

  • Enhanced auditory processing

  • Recalling and integrating language sounds

  • Improved neural connectivity

  • Increased inhibitory control: managing frustration and emotional responses

  • Better cognitive control

  • Higher ability to maintain focus and to switch attention effectively


"Even more impressive is that rhythmic training improves children’s ability to read. many studies were conducted on this effect. Dr. Collins states it is now accepted as a causal link: “When a child can maintain a steady beat, it shows that all the connections in the brain required for reading are connected.”


"Musical training is good for adults as well. It can help delay any possible onset of Alzheimer’s, it can help reduce pain, and in a nutshell, music training is like a whole brain workout."

 Why Music Gives You Chills?

 By Lucas Reilly

"Some music literally gives you goosebumps—what's up with that?

When your playlist strikes all the right chords, your body can go on a physiological joyride."

  • Your heart rate increases.

  • Your pupils dilate.

  • Your body temperature rises.

  • Blood redirects to your legs.

  • Your cerebellum—mission control for body movement—becomes more active.

  • Your brain flushes with dopamine and a tingly chill whisks down your back.

What’s going on here?

Chill Out

"About 50 percent of people get chills when listening to music. Research shows that’s because music stimulates an ancient reward pathway in the brain, encouraging dopamine to flood the striatum—a part of the forebrain activated by addiction, reward, and motivation. Music, it seems, may affect our brains the same way that sex, gambling, and potato chips do."


"Strangely, those dopamine levels can peak several seconds before the song’s special moment. That’s because your brain is a good listener—it’s constantly predicting what’s going to happen next. (Evolutionarily speaking, it’s a handy habit to have. Making good predictions is essential for survival.)"


"But music is tricky. It can be unpredictable, teasing our brains and keeping those dopamine triggers guessing. And that’s where the chills may come in. Because when you finally hear that long awaited chord, the striatum sighs with dopamine-soaked satisfaction and—bam—you get the chills. The greater the build-up, the greater the chill."


Gray Areas

"But there are competing theories. Neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp discovered that sad music triggers chills more often than happy music He argues that a melancholy tune activates an ancient, chill-inducing mechanism—a distress response our ancestors felt when separated from family. When a ballad makes us feel nostalgic or wistful, that evolutionary design kicks into gear."


"Chills don’t sadden most people. The experience is overwhelmingly positive. Research has shown that sad music actually evokes positive emotions—sadness experienced through art is more pleasant than the sadness you experience from a bad day at the office." 


"The amygdala, which processes your emotions, responds uniquely to music. A somber tune may activate a fear response in the amygdala, making your hair stand on end. When that happens, your brain quickly reviews whether there’s any real danger. When it realizes there’s nothing to worry about, that fear response becomes positive. The fear subsides but the chill remains."


Anything Goes

"You can feel chills from any genre, whether it’s Mozart, Madonna, tango, or techno" "It’s the structure—not the style—that counts. Goose bumps most often occur when something unexpected happens: A new instrument enters, the form shifts, the volume suddenly dims. It’s all about the element of surprise.

Well, maybe."

"The most powerful chills may occur when you know what’s coming next. When our expectations are being met, the nucleus accumbens becomes more active. This ties back to that dopamine-inducing guessing game our brain likes to play. As a result, being familiar can enhance the thrill of the chill. .

Your personality matters, too. Scientists at UNC Greensboro found that people who are more open to new experiences are more likely to feel a quiver down their spine" ". Meanwhile, researchers in Germany found that people who felt chills were less likely to be thrill seekers, but were more reward-driven."


Wanna know more?:

"Remember that life is what we pay attention to."

Catherine Price, author and science journalist

(and we might add . . . who and what we listen to, )


Foods that boost memory*

Diets rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, fish, healthier fats, and herbs or seeds boost the brain's memory functioning.

Apple Pie Energy Balls

  • ¾ cup Medjool dates, pitted and chopped


  • ½ cup rolled oats


  • ½ cup chopped dried apples


  • ½ cup unsweetened almond butter


  • ¼ cup chopped pecans, toasted


  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon


  1. Soak dates in a small bowl of hot water until softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Drain.

  2. Combine oats, dried apples, almond butter, pecans, cinnamon and the soaked dates in a food processor; process until very finely chopped.

  3. Roll the mixture into 12 balls (about 2 tablespoons each). Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or up to 1 week.





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