March 15, 2015
Classical Music Down-Regulates Genes For Neurodegeneration

Does classical music alter genetic regulation in a way that slows brain aging?

Although listening to music is common in all societies, the biological determinants of listening to music are largely unknown. According to a latest study, listening to classical music enhanced the activity of genes involved in dopamine secretion and transport, synaptic neurotransmission, learning and memory, and down-regulated the genes mediating neurodegeneration. Several of the up-regulated genes were known to be responsible for song learning and singing in songbirds, suggesting a common evolutionary background of sound perception across species.

Have you treated your brain genes to classical music lately? Earlier today I treated my brain with Beethoven's Emperor Concerto.

Naturally the researchers turned to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart for a strong dose.

Listening to music represents a complex cognitive function of the human brain, which is known to induce several neuronal and physiological changes. However, the molecular background underlying the effects of listening to music is largely unknown. A Finnish study group has investigated how listening to classical music affected the gene expression profiles of both musically experienced and inexperienced participants. All the participants listened to W.A. Mozart's violin concert Nr 3, G-major, K.216 that lasts 20 minutes.

Listening to music enhanced the activity of genes involved in dopamine secretion and transport, synaptic function, learning and memory. One of the most up-regulated genes, synuclein-alpha (SNCA) is a known risk gene for Parkinson's disease that is located in the strongest linkage region of musical aptitude. SNCA is also known to contribute to song learning in songbirds.

This (beautiful) piece is easy to find. Here is Hilary Hahn playing it for the previous Pope: Mozart - Violin Concerto No 3 in G major, K 216

Share |      Randall Parker, 2015 March 15 08:26 PM 

Muso said at March 16, 2015 12:57 AM:

More snobbery. They don't seem to have tested other kinds of music but feel the need to sound superior by using classical music. It sounds as though it is just Music that is good not just this one white, Western European type of music that has acquired a bizarre cachet even though the majority if people don't listen to it regularly or at all. It's like Charlie Parker's or Chet Baker's need to record "with strings". Or Zappa and others recording with orchestras.

Note, (most) classical music is fine but it is is not intrinsically better than other forms of music and people, particularly scientists, need to stop pretending it is.

Tom said at March 16, 2015 10:03 AM:

Muso, maybe it has to do with the high frequencies effects on the ear and the vagus nerve according to what Tomatis proposed
I do not know if science has confirmed this effect.

jfranck said at March 17, 2015 12:11 PM:

The ability of the researchers to think the best of the music chosen is not abrogated by Muso's ability to think the worst of the people doing the research. I'll stick with Mozart. Mosa can have Gaga.

Bruce Russell said at March 17, 2015 12:23 PM:

Hey, Muso: is this an emotional issue for you?

Classical music is more complex, textured and ornate than any other kind of music.

It is the "Rocket Science" of music.

Just sayin'

George Pepper said at March 17, 2015 2:16 PM:

Background: I'm a composer of classical music who started out in the jazz/rock garageband tradition of US suburbia - I kind of hate to admit that, because modern composers are mainly academic poseurs who produce dreadfully pretentious garbage - but I compose the real thing: Fugues as a continuation of Bach and sonatas as a continuation of the Haydn/Mozart/Beethoven tradition (You can listen for yourself, if you'd like; a 3:20 sonata movement here and a 5:20 fugue here (Uncompressed CD quality AIFF files, so you'll need Quicktime Player activated in your browser). I even managed to earn BM and MM degrees along the way. Anyway, this doesn't surprise me. At 57 I'm the best I've ever been, and new ideas constantly flood my mind. Mentally, I feel under 30, but keep in mind I also do very hard strength training as well. I can squat my body weight, for example. Those two things work together, I think. I Definitely experience euphoria when listening to or composing music (Being in the zone composing is totally impossible to describe, but it is a sublime experience).

And @Muso, you are simply wrong. I've composed swing, bebop, Latin jazz - My BM is from Berklee - and there is no comparison. Counterpoint is orders of magnitude more intricate than any jazz music, and forget rock and pop; I was "composing" that stuff in my teens. The depth of concentration when listening to classical is just as different, and I love classic jazz like Charlie Parker.

Mike said at March 17, 2015 5:19 PM:

I agree with George. I never much liked rock, with some exceptions. Classical music (my favorite is Italian baroque) is far and away more interesting and enjoyable. And I don't feel bludgeoned and bruised afterwards. His sonata is good; the link to his fugue is apparently broken.

Mike Bizzaro said at March 17, 2015 7:29 PM:

Joseph Ratzinger (a.k.a. "Benedict XV") was not the Pope. Satan's vatican-2 heretic cult (founded on 8 December 1965 at the Vatican) does not have the Office of the Papacy ... only the Catholic Church has the Papacy.

I list some of the stunning heresies ... against Catholic Dogma on Section 12.7 of my site > Ratzinger's clear heresies prove he is automatically excommunicated from the Catholic Church (and thus losing his soul).

For Ratzinger to become Christian (that is enter the Catholic Church) ... he would have to make a Formal Abjuration of heresy ... on Section 19.1 of the site ... and cease his physical participation in the vatican-2 heresy.

Staggering heresy of the vatican-2 cult ... in their founding documents (the documents of the "vatican-2 council") is on Section 12 of the site.

Tom said at March 18, 2015 8:22 AM:

Bizzaro... fitting name.

anyway, I love Rock, but c'mon. There is nothing comparable in any rock ditties to Mozart's Requiem, or Beethoven's Violin Concerto. Rock is a mud hut to classical's baroque cathedral.

Russ in TX said at March 19, 2015 7:35 AM:

Hey George,

How would you rate pop along the lines of Jean-Michel Jarre for musical complexity? I've noticed over the years that when I listen to the high end of that genre's material, I get a brain-feel very similar to some classical (classical is clearly more complex, but... some is more than others -- as a layman, I'm curious now how they rate. "Water Music," for instance, doesn't strike me as much more involved than a lot of higher-end jazz (back when they still had and used chords, rather than when the bottom fell out) though I may be very wrong about that).

Engineer-Poet said at March 19, 2015 1:34 PM:

Jean-Michel Jarre's stuff like "Oxygene" is very repetitive, not complex at all (dunno about much else, I only have that and 1 other).  He's about on the level of Andreas Vollenweider.

Russ in TX said at March 20, 2015 11:54 AM:

Ugh. Not a Vollenweider fan -- it sounds insipid to my ear. I don't see a complexity difference between Jarre and Zipoli, for instance. May need to go back and crack the music-appreciation texts.

Carol said at March 24, 2015 1:29 PM:

Muso, I am not sure why you seem to be so angry and dismissive about 'classical' music, or why you associate 'superiority' and 'snobbery' to it. I was a teenager in the '70's and still love classic rock, love latin jazz, and country music when I'm in the mood. One doesn't have to limit themselves to one genre, or dismiss what they don't 'understand.' Whether you are an educated listener of classical music and can identify a recapitulation from a cadenza really doesn't matter. It's about how it makes you feel, how it opens your heart and speaks to your soul. Full disclosure - I was exposed to classical music at an early age, hearing my parents records, and I started piano at 6 (hated it until I was 12), and then picked it up again in middle age. I've been studying violin for the past 3 years - 'classical' music is my default favorite, and I hear new things in pieces that I have heard for years. Well written music does this - it reveals itself continually in new and unexpected ways. Do yourself a favor and listen to Beethoven's 9th symphony. This is probably the most enduring and monumental piece of music ever written on the planet. This is Beethoven, a towering genius who will be revered for as long as humans walk the earth, spilling his love for his fellow man and for God. I would like to 'convert' you as an appreciate listener to a genre that you have decided to hate!
Here is a link to a live performance with the London Symphony Orchestra from 1989. Some interesting preamble, and the music starts after the 8 minute mark. Please enjoy.


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