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Can Music Affect Your Reflexes?

Music is the art of organizing tones, rhythms, tempos in a successive combination to create melodies and harmonies. Historically, music has played an integral part in many cultures. Music may stimulate certain hormones in the brain and body that promotes feelings of excitement, motivation, peace and serenity, depending on the variety of music. Additionally, music may play a part in the manner by which a person responds to stimulus in his surrounding environment.

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Defining Reflexes

Reflexes are involuntary movements that your body performs without consciously choosing to do so. Reflexes are usually provoked by environmental stimuli such as pulling your hand away from a hot stove or reaching to catch a ball that has been thrown to you. Reflexes are controlled by the brain, and nervous system as messages from the brain quickly move through the nerves and into the muscles to perform specific functions.


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1996.'). Endorphins increase heart rate, constrict blood vessels to increase blood pressure and may help the brain to focus more clearly and help you become more alert to your surrounding environment.


In a 1984 study published in the Russian science journal Zh Vyssh Nerv Deiat Im I P Pavlova, research was done to test the effect that classical and variety music had on motor reaction time and its relationship to different parts of the brain 3. The study showed that, in general, music quickened response time and that the influence of variety music was much more effective than that of the classical music. The study also showed that response time was shorter when stimuli was present in the left visual field, controlled by the right side of the brain, than when stimuli was present in the right visual field, controlled by the left side of the brain.


Anxiety in Sports

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A study published in the Sport Psychologist in March 2009 by Bishop, Karageorghis and Kinrade tested the heart rate, affective responses and the reaction time of 54 tennis players who listened to selected music that differed in tempo and intensity 4. The results showed that faster music elicited more pleasant and aroused emotional states in the athletes. The researchers suggested that playing music as part of a pre-event routine when warming up and preparing for a game could improve overall athletic performance.

Expert Insight

Elizabeth Miles holds a master's degree in Ethnomusicology from the University of California Los Angeles. In her book “Tune Your Brain,” Miles explains that music is key in orchestrating functions between the brain and the body 2.