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What Listening to Music Does to the Brain

Updated: Jan 16

You’ve Always Loved Superior Car Stereo Sound. These Factors May Be Why.


It’s hard to put into words why we love our car stereos so much. Is it the newest technology and features? Is it showing off on the road or having what others don’t?


Maybe it’s a little of everything. But the science behind listening to music may give you a new perspective on your love of audio. Find out more below about how music affects the brain, which may explain why you find yourself instinctually heading to the car stereo shop to browse or chat with their team of car stereo installation pros. 


How Car Stereo Music Affects Our Lives

Listening to music is an obsession for many of us, and there are clear reasons why we seem to love it, says Dr. Andrew E. Budson at the Harvard Health Blog


He points to a recent survey that reveals what music listeners may experience: 


  • More happiness.

  • Higher rates of mental wellbeing.

  • Less anxiety and depression.

  • Healthy cognitive function, which includes thinking, logic, remembering, solving problems, paying attention, and making decisions.  

Although only about 3,000 people completed this survey, Dr. Budson explains that the responses certainly track with what music does to our brains when we’re listening.


Listening to music on our car stereos, with earbuds, through home audio systems, or wherever we listen, strengthens the amygdala, the part of the brain associated with emotions, including empathy; the cerebellum that controls our motor functions; and the hippocampus and neocortex, which affects our memories. 


Neuroscientists, such as Dr. Daniel Levitin, also says that music affects the levels of dopamine in our body, the brain chemical that makes you feel a sense of wellbeing, satisfaction, and pleasure. 

Dr. Levitin explains that music:


  • Lowers our heart rate.

  • Deepens our breathing.

  • Reduces stress hormones.

  • Creates a sense of connection.


This may explain why immersing yourself in music from your high-quality car stereo system feels like a bodily experience, more than just a simple listening experience. The music is impacting your brain and body in positive ways.


How We Talk About Listening to Music on Our Car Stereos Says It All

Think about how you describe the experience of listening to music in your car stereo. Everyone has different experiences, but these tend to be the most common descriptions. You’ll often hear people describe that music offers:


  • A way to get out of your head.

  • A way to bond with other people.

  • An out-of-body experience.

  • A way to de-stress and calm down.

  • An energy boost or feeling of power.

  • A calming effect on the body.


If you were to ask a person heading into any given car stereo shop, they’d be likely to mention one of these benefits of music. These descriptions definitely match the effects described by the doctors mentioned above.


When we feel connected, more relaxed, or happier when listening to music, it’s because what we’re listening to is lighting up the areas of the brain responsible for these feelings. Now you won’t be so surprised when you find you’re thinking of when you can make the latest audio upgrades from the car stereo installers you rely on - you’re doing it for your health!


How to Optimize Your Car Stereo to Get the Many Benefits of Listening to Music

To benefit from all that superior audio has to offer, you can ensure your car stereo is completely prepared to deliver a powerful sound experience.


If you haven’t yet upgraded your car stereo, you will want to start there. While your original equipment manufacturer (OEM) may offer a fairly decent system, you have to remember that audio isn’t an auto manufacturer’s priority. If you want a truly incredible system, you have to visit your local car stereo shop for an upgrade.


If there’s one piece of advice when getting in touch with your local car stereo team, it’s this: don’t try to do your own car stereo installation once you’ve picked out a stereo system from a leading manufacturer. DIY installs do not end well. Instead, rely on professionals who love audio as much as you do.


Soon, you’ll be on the road, experiencing the powerful health benefits that music has to offer. You may not be thinking about your brain chemistry when you’re cruising around, but you can thank science – and your local car stereo business - for connecting you with the power of music.


Learn more about car audio and aftermarket upgrades here


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