A new scientific study has confirmed what we’ve long felt to be true — that brain wave activity is heightened in the presence of live music. The study, led by neuroscientist and psychology professor Dr. Jessica Grahn, finds that “people enjoy music more when the performance is live and when experienced as part of a group.”
The new findings add further scientific evidence to the notion that humans are social creatures indeed. “When individuals attend a live concert and listen to music as a group, their brains waves synchronize – a bond that indicates each individual is having a better time as part of a collective,” adds Grahn.
Grahn’s research team hired a band to perform for 24 participants in an audience, measuring the brain wave data of musicians and attendees, while also taking motion captures of how people move to music.
Two more data sets were collected during the study. The second condition broadcasted a video of the band’s performance to participants, in real time, using the same acoustics of the live performance. The third condition occurred afterward, where participants experienced the recorded concert, but this time, they couldn’t interact with each other.
After organizing the data, researchers were able to determine that the “synchronization” of brain waves amongst all participants was “greatest in the presence of live performers.”
“When the brain waves were synchronized in this live condition, they synchronized around the rate at which people tend to feel the beat,” Grahn explains. “We call this ‘the delta band.’ This seemed to be the highest in the live condition.”
Upon further analysis of people’s body movements, the study offered one fascinating hypothesis as to why music as a whole has evolved over the years.
“There’s some evidence that shows one of the reasons music evolved is because it allows large groups of people to synchronize their movement,” says Grahn. “When people move together, there is evidence they feel a sense of community and more altruistic.”