This is Your Brain on Hip Hop

This is Your Brain on Hip Hop

This is your brain and this is your brain on Hip Hop.

How rap music affects human emotion

Hip Hop is the most dominate musical culture. Based on this realization, an essay has been published by Mashable titled This is your brain on Hip Hop: how Rap music affects human emotion. It includes audio and informative graphics. The essay shares the growing presence of Hip Hop therapy. The goal is to investigate”the science behind how music moves us on a psychological, emotional, and physical level.”

(Full disclosure: The essay was backed by Bose so it’s clear that it’s a marketing strategy for Bose’s QC35 II headphones.)

The paper does provide statistical data and informative content.  For one, “[R]esearchers posit that Rap music and Hip-Hop may be useful tools for treating patients with depression or low self-esteem,” the essay says. The essay uses rap lyrics to discuss issues pertaining to mental health, known as Hip Hop Psych. As the essay explains,  “The researchers hope the project will help break down barriers and stigmas within the Hip-Hop industry and will facilitate better conversations about mental health.”

Positive visual imagery


Positive visual imagery is huge in Hip Hop:

“In rap lyrics, it is exemplified by songs that detail people who’ve risen from the ashes of poverty or have overcome significant obstacles.  They’ve found fame, fortune, admiration, and redemption.”

The essay credits the culture’s ability to pump up athletes before a big game and suggests a similar scenario of “confidence-boosting messaging” can help those suffering with things like mental illness. It’s because music affects the brain’s four major lobes – the frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital.  It’s been known for years can have visible effects on human emotion and behaviour. The essay reads, “Multiple researchers have noted a link between music and dopamine.”

Alternate state of mind

The NIDCD  studied the brain of 12 rappers. They put the emcees under an fMRI machine as they fresstyled and rapped memorized lines. According to the scientists’ interpretation, the rappers actually enter something similar to an alternate state of mind.

“The findings are close to other studies on the improvisation of jazz musicians — and suggest that the act of making music taps into complex creative reserves in truly astounding ways.” is a phenomenal resource for those looking to explore further the neuroscience behind Rap music and the human brain.


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