There’s some evidence that the music you listen to can actually make you smarter (or dumber!)
That’s the hypothesis software application writer Virgin Griffith looked to prove when he mapped out musical tastes correlated to SAT and ACT scores. The study compared the results of scores from 1.352 colleges around the U.S. with a survey of student’s musical preferences based on both individual artists and genres.
So what did Griffith find?
The smartest people liked Beethoven with an average 1371 SAT score. But fans of other bands like Counting Crows (1247 SAT,) Guster (1238 SAT,) Radiohead (1220 SAT,) U2 (1211 SAT,) and Bob Dylan (1197 SAT) also registered the highest.
Those who liked Norah Jones, The Shins, Beck, Phish, Led Zeppelin, and Billy Joel were also in the top 15 rankings for “smartest music.”
Of course, this study was far from scientific, and no direct link has been proven. So Griffith took it a step further, taking the results and matching them with the school’s most Liked artists on Facebook.
Out of the 133 artists or musical genres he looked at on Facebook, which ones correlated with the lowest SAT and ACT scores? That would be Lil’ Wayne (889 SAT,) Soca (915 SAT,) T.I. (926 SAT,) and Reggaeton music (941 SAT).
But there were plenty of surprises in the bottom ten results that we’d expect to be higher, like Gospel music (925 SAT,) Beyonce (932,) Jazz music (946,) and Oldies (961) all ranking poorly.
In fact, Classical music was ranked 119 out of 133 for the “dumbest” forms of music on this list, well ahead of Nickelback at #112, Eminem at #86, and Kanye West at #77.
So people who love Kanye West are way smarter than those who enjoy Gospel or Classical music? I think if anything, that just shows that this study is far from conclusive, and there are many factors that determine the kinds of music we like, separate from our intelligence.
But there is more evidence that our preference for different types of music has a direct effect on our brains.
In fact, dozens of receptors in our brains react to different aspects of the music we hear, like rhythm, tone, melody, and lyrics.
The rhythms we hear affect our left frontal cortex, left parietal cortex, and right cerebellum.
Tonality affects the prefrontal cortex, cerebellum, and temporal lobe.
Lyrics impact Wernicke’s area of the brain, Broca’s area (depending on the kind of music), the visual cortex, motor cortex, and even trigger emotional responses.
Music can also help improve our language skills, creativity, and happiness levels. There’s also a direct link between music and decreased levels of anxiety, increased feelings of optimism, and even decreases in pain.
Research also shows that students that take courses in music performance or appreciation score higher on their SATs than students who don’t. In fact, students exposed to music appreciation test 61 points higher on their verbal SAT scores and 42 points higher on math SAT scores.
Furthermore, music majors comprise the highest percentage (66%) of accepted medical students!
That’s all the evidence we need to conclude that music makes you smarter!