Questions for ‘Music has the power to move us physically and emotionally. Here’s why’

a crowd of people dancing with hands in the air as ballons fall, the lights in front of the crowd are a teal to purple gradient

Music generates big emotional and physical benefits, which is one reason why social events — such as concerts — can help bring people together.

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To accompany ‘Music has the power to move us physically and emotionally. Here’s why


Before Reading:

  1. What types of music do you like to listen to? Are your tastes in music similar to or different from your friends? How do you find new songs to listen to?
  2. Think about how music makes you feel, both physically and emotionally. Different types may affect you differently. Give some examples. What is a song or piece of music that affects your mood, and how? What is a song or piece of music that makes you want to move, and in what way?

During Reading:

  1. What data did Matt Woolhouse have? What did this data remind David Earn of?
  2. What three groups of people are included in the mathematical model Dora Rosati used to study disease spread? When the model was applied to music sharing, what would those three groups be?
  3. In the analysis by Earn’s team, which genre of music did they find was very contagious?
  4. List three brain networks that Matthew Sachs identified as becoming more active while people listened to music. What functions are each responsible for?
  5. In Sachs’ research, what did he conclude about the link between recognizing emotions and feeling them?
  6. What is dopamine?
  7. In research by Olivia Brancatisano and William Forde Thompson, how did music help older people who had a stroke or dementia? What characteristics of the music seemed key to these effects?
  8. In the study described about kids’ ability to focus, how did background music affect kids with ADHD? How did it affect kids without ADHD?

After Reading:

  1. Imagine you are really into a local band that isn’t known outside the area where you live. While visiting family who live in a different state, some of your family members hear you listening to some of the band’s songs. They start to like the music, too, and share a song with some of their friends. Describe what might happen next, based on the mathematical model of spread described in the story. At the beginning of your trip, which group are you in? Which group are your family members in? Which group are your family’s friends in? At the end of your visit, which group are each of you in? Who might be in the “susceptible” group at that time?
  2. Music and sounds are not the only types of sensory information that can evoke strong emotional responses. Scents can also trigger memories and emotional reactions. Based on Matthew Sachs’ research described in the story, design an experiment to explore how people’s brains respond to particular scents. What brain networks might you focus on and why?