Posted on Mar 23, 2020, 4 p.m.
Recent research published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology from researchers at Brunel University has revealed that listening to music during exercise can help to fight off fatigue; the study found the rhythm of music activates a region of the brain that helps humans from becoming tired.
“The effects of music on exercise have been systematically investigated for more than 100 years, and we are still not completely sure how music enhances exercise performance, assuages fatigue, and elicits positive affective responses,” said study author Marcelo Bigliassi.
“I have spent the past decade trying to answer this research question and, finally, after a series of fNIRS (functional near-infrared spectroscopy), EEG (electroencephalography), and fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) experiments, we can now understand how music is processed in the brain during exercise.”
This study involved 19 healthy adults and focused on their performance during hand grip exercises while brain activity was being recorded by an MRI scanner; participants engaged in 30 sets of exercises that involved 10 seconds of gripping followed by 19 seconds of rest. Music was revealed to be associated with greater stimulation during exercise, increased thoughts that were unrelated to the physical activity, as well as changes being observed in one particular region of the brain, and increased activation in this region coincided with decreased fatigue.
Bigliassi told PsyPost: “Music is a very powerful auditory stimulus and can be used to assuage negative bodily sensations that usually arise during exercise-related situations. This psychophysical response is triggered by an attentional mechanism that will ultimately result in a more efficacious control of the musculature.”
“What we have identified in this study was that the left inferior frontal gyrus activates when individuals exercise in the presence of music. This region of the brain appears to be a hub of sensory integration, processing information from external and internal sources (e.g., music and limb discomfort, respectively).”
“It is important to emphasise that the practical implications of this study might be very similar to other applied studies in the field of sport and exercise,” said Bigliassi. “However, unravelling these mechanisms can actually open a new avenue for scientific investigation into the effects of sensory modulation on attentional responses and subsequent fatigue-related sensations.”
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