20 August 2018

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The Way You Respond To Music May Be Linked To Success

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In today’s world, we see how tech and science has dominated and shaped our lives. There is no doubt that innovation in those disciplines has redefined our understanding of what innovation really means. As we look around us, we see that our world was transformed by computers, gadgets, as well as the various apps associated with them. The areas of medicine, as well as finance, have been revolutionized by STEM. For example, most recently, immunotherapies have shed light on how we can eradicate various disease, while advances in fintech have introduced new ways of thinking about money through the creation of digital currencies. It is easy to see that innovation, and thereby careers, in the mathematical and technical sciences require a very specialized type of abstract thinking and problem-solving. This is intelligence is also emphasized in our education system, and measured by various tests. It is known as IQ. Although this types of skill is an important one and high IQ may be a predictor of success, there is also another type of intelligence that recently came under the spotlight. This type of intelligence is known as the EQ or the emotional quotient. Sometimes people refer to the IQ as the hard skills while they refer to EQ as the soft-skills.

In recent years EQ came to light as an important aspect of a well rounded and a successful person and thereby making it an important skill in leadership, management, and sales. An article by HBR calls it a ‘key business skill’ and explores why it became so significant in today’s world. It has been recognized that a key ingredient in EQ is empathy, which is the ability to put yourself in the shoes of others and recognize what the other person is feeling. Basically, it is the ability to feel the other person. Although this skill is not taught in a traditional classroom, new research indicates that music may be a gateway to this skill.

Recent neuroscience research explores the link between empathy and music, and how highly empathetic people react to music differently. Through using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan the brain, researchers studied the connection between music and the brain. While empathy has attracted various attention by researchers, the link between music, which forms an integral part of our society, and empathy has not been understood. This study sheds light on that link. It suggests that the way we respond to music is linked to our inherent empathic ability. The authors found that when empathetic people listen to music, the same areas of the brain are activated as when they are interacting with, or thinking about other people. This, of course, makes sense because music in and of itself is an expression of feeling and feeling is what drives the communication between people. People with higher empathy possess a greater understanding of the feelings of others. Researchers also found that more empathic people process music while activating the reward system of the brain. This indicates that they derive pleasure from listening to music, and thus it can be implicated they derive pleasure from the interactions with others. Additionally, they also found that people who have to possess higher empathy have stronger opinions and passions about the music they like and dislike. Thus, this suggests that music is a gateway to our feelings and interactions with others.
Music has been an essential part of our culture for millennia, it transmits human sentiments and life cycles of emotions. The finding of this research shed light as to how our response to music can help us understand our own empathetic abilities as well as those of others.

Dr. Anna Powers is an entrepreneur, advisor and an award winning scientist. Her passion is sharing the beauty of science and encouraging women to enter STEM fields.
I am an advisor, consultant and an award winning scientist, lecturer and scholar. As the first woman to be awarded the Global STEM Leadership Prize for my work in Global Education, I use my talent to help more women gain access to the fields that drive innovation.

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