JUNE 30, 2013 BY Dr. Walid Fitaihi
The human body and each of its cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems have a certain resonance and they function optimally within a specific range of sounds.
The vibrations in the human body create a natural pattern of sounds that is essential to human health and balance: physically, mentally, and spiritually.
The sound environment plays a vital role in the ability of the brain to control the nervous system, to send and receive billions of nerve impulses, convert signals into mental images, and to process information.
Sounds can profoundly influence the mental images created by the brain and can change perception and understanding of reality.
Either voluntary or involuntary exposure to external environmental sounds that do not match the rhythmic sounds of the human’s internal environment may cause stress, tension, and fatigue.
Negative impacts of disturbing sounds include low energy levels, poor performance at work, occupational errors, and an inability to make clear cut decisions. The louder the sounds, the more detrimental and pronounced their effects will be.
Clinical psychologist, Professor Bart Billings, said: “Long term exposure to excessive levels of high intensity, low frequency sound, such as that produced by highly amplified bass music or heavy metal, airplanes, racing cars, battle field noise, and others can not only be physically harmful, but can cause complications that can lead to death.”
When one listens to music that is out of sync with the frequency produced by natural sounds the body perceives these disturbing sounds as a threat and reacts to these sounds as such.
The “fight or flight” response is turned on to prepare the body to flee from the pending threat or to enter a battle and fend off the attack.
Stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, are secreted which raise blood pressure, pulse rate, and blood cholesterol levels.
These hormones are beneficial and necessary if the body is entering battle or is under assault because they direct blood flow to muscles in the arms and legs and increase oxygen intake to fuel the body during the physical challenge.
Also, the viscosity or stickiness of the blood is increased so the blood clots rapidly to protect the body from bleeding to death if it is wounded during battle. This response can be life saving but only when it is truly needed. On the other hand, these hormones can be harmful to human health when they are coursing through the body for a long time, especially when there is no real physical threat.
When one feels pain, the brain releases endorphins; hormone-like substances which act as a natural pain-killer and opiate. Endorphins produce a state of relaxation and a feeling of well-being.
Loud music affects every cell in the body and it elicits a reaction in the body equivalent to the response to the perception of pain. Endorphins are released, accompanied by a feeling of sedation, well-being, and pleasure.
That is how the addiction to loud music begins, as stated by the researcher Dr. William Glasser in his book, ‘Positive Addiction’.Endorphins may explain teenagers’ addiction to loud music and the incessant tendency of some to listen to this music for several hours each day.
Gradually, they increase the volume to higher and higher levels to the extent that you can clearly hear the music that the youngster sitting next to you is listening to, even though he/she is using personal earphones.
Music production companies are aware of the addictive nature of high intensity, low frequency sounds and they market such music to those between the ages of 16 and 25 years who are most likely to be drawn to such recordings.
Loud, heavy metal music has a wide range of negative effects on human health, starting with the ear.
The inner ear or choclea contains thousands of tiny hair cells that convert the vibrations from incoming sounds into electrical signals that are sent to the brain to detect the sounds and discern what they are.
Very loud sounds can damage these hair cells and once they are damaged they cannot be repaired or replaced. Over time, listening to very loud music can cause hearing loss and ringing in the ears or head (tinnitus).
In a joint study between the National Institute for Physiological Sciences in Japan and the University of Muenster in Germany, researchers demonstrated that listening to loud music through earphones for extended periods can cause changes in the ear and the nerves of the brain that result in a decline in the ability to distinguish sounds.
A prolonged increase in the secretion of the hormone cortisol has another negative impact on the body; namely it can lead to memory loss.
A study in Germany showed that memory recall among heavy metal music lovers is reduced by 15 percent to 60 percent. In another study of 600 people who rarely listen to loud music, only 4 percent of them demonstrated memory loss in comparison with a group in a similar age range who frequently listen to loud music, of whom around 21 percent of them experienced memory loss.
Neuroendocrinologist and professor at Stanford University, Dr. Robert Sapolsky, explains the phenomenon in which the release of adrenaline and cortisol causes memory loss.
The stress hormones direct blood glucose to the large muscles in the body. This reduces the level of blood glucose that reaches the area in the brain called the hippocampus which is highly responsible for memory recall.
Therefore, continuously listening to loud music can impair learning and the ability to retain and retrieve information in the brain.
A study conducted by the British Royal Academy reported that internationally, up to 75,000 young people between the ages of 14 and 24 years have died as a result of an addiction to loud, blaring music.
Professor Frederick Harms from the British Royal Academy for Music studied 6,550 patient cases suffering from psychological disorders and he said that the pressures of life may create a state of despair in some youth which drives them toward listening to loud music for hours at a time. These young people commonly develop psychological imbalances, insomnia, decreased appetite, social withdrawal, weakened immune system, and in some cases a nervous breakdown that can be fatal.
Loud music also has a profound impact on the health and normal brain development of the fetus nestled in its mother’s womb.
No doubt, the effects of listening to loud music on the human soul and how it distances one from the glorification of the Creator and separates us from the natural universe that we are an integral part of must also be explored.The infatuation with loud music is a destructive illness. A heightened awareness in our community and understanding these effects can help us protect the physical, mental, and spiritual health and vitality of our loved ones.