This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of Floating with Sound

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The Mozart Effect: A pop-science theory that suggests listening to classical music creates a cognitive boost that can aid in reasoning, problem solving, and even increase IQ. Popularized in the 1990s, The Mozart Effect inspired a generation of symphony attendees to buy up all the Bach they could. The media buzz eventually subsided when products promising to turn your toddler into the next Einstein understandably fell flat.

While true that there is no “silver bullet” to solving complex problems, music is still a popular area of study for its impressive list of cognitive benefits. Neurologists knew they were onto something and have continued to develop an understanding of how our brain reacts to different types of music. The music you hear when you step into a Float Pod isn’t just inviting you in – it’s engaging your brain even as you disengage to float.

Generally speaking, music wakes up our mind. PET scans and functional MRIs light up all over the mental map as soon as we start listening. But The Mozart Effect wasn’t so far off in its suggestion that different types of music affect us differently. For example, the calming, ambient-style music that plays inside a Float Pod is ideal for engaging the corpus callosum.

What is a corpus callosum? The corpus callosum is a broad column of nerves that connects the two hemispheres of the brain. Without it, some of our rational reasoning centers would fail to communicate with our brain’s emotional hubs. That communication is crucial to higher-level executive functioning.

The corpus callosum is especially helpful with advanced social planning and strategizing. By engaging both rationally and emotionally, we can better understand how others will react to a situation and estimate the outcome. It’s no surprise that children born with an underdeveloped corpus callosum experience a range of psychological and social challenges; they struggle to understand the consequences of their own actions, as well as the perspectives and emotional reactions of their peers, and become easily overwhelmed when faced with novel problems.

All of this corpus callosum jargon and data point to the major benefit of musical engagement: Creative problem solving. Whether trying to solve Fermat’s Last Theorem, taking on a new project at work, or facing a disagreement with a friend, our brain can solve problems in a way that is both rational and diplomatic when the corpus callosum is involved.

But how does Float Pod’s playlist help? Research shows that soothing, ambient noise encourages brain activity without intruding upon our focus on the task at hand – ideal for stoking creativity and engaging the brain across both hemispheres. Particularly for patrons new to float therapy, background music can help ease you into the restful state you’re pursuing without allowing the mind to wander into intrusive thoughts.

The result: A reduction in day-to-day stress as new problems are approached with creativity and solved with ease.

A single float may be the ticket to cracking a tough problem that’s been on your mind, but the key to long-term innovative thinking is consistency. Regular float therapy sessions can encourage our brain make the neural connections necessary to tackle new obstacles or solve an existing challenge that has hit a mental wall.

Of course, the beauty of our brains is that no two are created exactly alike. Understanding how music can enhance your practice can help ensure that individual goals are met each time you float, but the same approach may not be right for everyone. Continue to experiment with music, silence, and sound to find your own creative mojo.

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