How does your brain react to music? In order to answer this question we first first needed to understand the brain, the control center of our body.

Understanding Brain Waves

Communications between the brain and our body happens through neurons that use electrical currents to communicate with nearby neurons, generating brain waves.

In order to test the functionality of the brain, neuroscientist created the Electroencephalography (EEG) a method used to record electrical activity in the brain. This measure is usually done with electrodes that record electrical changes over time.


The brain, muscles, heart, electricity, sound and earthquakes all generate waves. The length of a wave is measured in meters. The Frequency of a wave is the number of waves passing a point in a certain time. We normally use a time of 1 second, so this gives frequency the unit hertz (Hz), since one hertz is equal to one wave per second.

Humans display 5 different types of electrical patterns or “brain waves” across the cortex: Gamma, beta, alpha, theta and delta.

  • Gamma: 40 Hz to 100 Hz (Highest). Learning, memory and information processing.
  • Beta: 12 Hz to 40 Hz (High). Commonly observed while we are awake. Conscious thought, logical thinking, and tend to have a stimulating effect.
  • Alpha: 8 Hz to 12 Hz (Moderate). Gap between our conscious thinking and subconscious mind. In other words, alpha is the frequency range between beta and theta. It helps us calm down when necessary and promotes feelings of deep relaxation.
  • Theta: 4 Hz to 8 Hz (Slow). This particular frequency range is involved in daydreaming and sleep. Theta waves are connected to us experiencing and feeling deep and raw emotions.
  • Delta: 0 Hz to 4 Hz (Slowest). These are the slowest recorded brain waves in human beings. They are found most often in infants as well as young children. They are associated with the deepest levels of relaxation and restorative, healing sleep.

The brain has specific areas called lobes that do certain types of work. When you are watching a movie there is a lobe that understands the eyes input, another is controlling your legs and arms when running. There are two lobes that are involved with reading and writing. Your memories are kept by the same lobe that helps you on a math test. The brain is controlling all of these things and a lot more.


Besides the brain, our muscles also produce electricity, in order to get accurate results during EEG recordings, participants must remain still to avoid muscular activity from being recorded through the electrodes.

All of the process in our body are controlled by the brain, even our heart reacts to the brain's commands. Our heart also produces waves that are directly proportional to the brain activity.

One of the most powerful factors affecting our heart’s changing rhythm is our feelings and emotions. In general, anger, frustration, and anxiety raise the heartbeat, while positive emotions send a very different signal throughout our body. When we experience appreciation, joy, care, and love our heartbeat becomes more ordered, generating a harmonious wave.

Emotions play an important role, so, studying brain activities during emotional experiences has increased. The majority of research in emotions use visual stimuli to induce emotion, but music is one of the most efficient to produce subjective emotion.

Emotions have been described in terms of both discrete and dimensional. The discrete perspective refers to the physiology and behavior for each emotion like anger, happiness, etc. The dimensional perspective organizes emotional states by two factors, valence (positive/negative) and arousal (calm/exciting).

After understanding biological information, we have a huge challenge, represent our brain vs music activity through a fun and easy to understand experience.