Music Training on Adolescent Brains

Aside from developing lasting music preferences during adolescence,  music training can lead to an increase in maturation of an adolescent’s brain. In a study done by the Brain Development Group, they studied the brain development of subjects ages 6-18 as they played musical instruments using MRI scans. It elaborates on how playing music can increase the rate of growth in an adolescent’s brain, specifically in the cortices of the brain.

I have always noticed in my life that the people at school who practiced some sort of musical instrument always seemed a little bit more mature than others. My sisters in particular grew up to be very mature while they were in high school as they had lots of intense music practice while they grew up.

The study shows that music training can influence the adolescent brain, causing it to mature much more quickly than others, but it doesn’t mean that it causes their brains to be better. This kind of training only increases that rate that the brain grows, not increasing the IQ of the adolescent. Overall, this study poses another interesting stance on how music can affect adolescents’ brains as they continue to grow.

Source: Hudziak JJ, Albaugh MD, Ducharme S, et al. Cortical Thickness Maturation and Duration of Music Training: Health-Promoting Activities Shape Brain Development. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 2014;53(11):1153-1161.e2. doi:10.1016/j.jaac.2014.06.015.


Music Nostalgia and the Adolescent Brain

The article “Why Are We So Nostalgic for Music We Loved as Teenagers? ” by Mark Joseph Stern further emphasizes the point that the music we listen to as adolescents shapes our neural pathways and influences our preferences in the future. It elaborates on how music not only stimulates the prefrontal cortex of our brains, therefore creating memories but also triggers the frontostriatal cortex which releases dopamine and other pleasure-inducing neurotransmitters.

During adolescent development, our brains are changing and the songs we enjoy the most are encoded in our memories due to the strong emotional connections our brain makes with them. The surplus of pubertal hormones adolescents experience heighten their emotions and encode strong emotional memory linked to music.

However, the article also addresses another psychological aspect of why our musical taste is so shaped by our adolescent years. It touches on how as people discover their identity throughout their adolescent years, music becomes a part of their self-image. Listening to music one loved during one’s teens and young adult years can allow one to go back in time and once again feel the joy and experience the memories connected to certain songs.

Overall, this article is a useful complement to the original article because it goes into further detail about how the songs listened to during one’s adolescent years influences their taste in music many years later.

Work Cited

Stern, Mark Joseph. “Why Are We So Nostalgic for Music We Loved as                   Teenagers?” Slate Magazine, Slate, 12 Aug. 2014.



Music Taste: Is it long-lasting?

Personally, I find it kind of ironic, that the music that men and women listen to at the ages of 13 to 16 are the most influential on later music preferences. I initially felt like the music that music that would be listened to in later stages of life would have more of an impact on music preference, however with this article, and like the New York Times article it is evident that younger ages set the bases for your music preference.


I also found it interesting that there was numerical evidence to support this idea concerning music taste. For instance, the examples of “Creep” and “Just Like Heaven” showed that they are the 164thfavorite songs among men, and were very popular with women respectively. The time frames corresponded to men at the age of 14 and women at the age of 11. Thinking back to the songs my parents enjoy, I can see how this can be true. They listen to songs that had similar styles and beats while they were adolescents.


Currently, I am an adolescent, and now I can actually see the correlation somewhat. Like when I was younger I fell in love with R&B. Now I listen more to hip-hop and rap, but I still have a sweet spot for R&B. With this being said, I don’t see myself abruptly changing my preference in music to say country or alternative. So I guess in a weird, but logical way, what you listen to as a teen or pre-teen influences what you listen to later.

Music as an Emotional Stimulant During Puberty

After reading the article, the evidence shows the influence of music taste as a teenager. Based on what I read, the music we listen to as teenagers (aged 13 for females and 14 for males) determines our taste in music as adults. In my own life, I have seen evidence of this in my parents. The music they listened to as teenagers still influences what the listen to now as adults. My dad is now 50 and still listens to the same Octane and popular music he did as a teen. My mom will sing along to the 1980s classics radio station in the car, remembering every word and recounting memories about the songs from her life in high school, as she graduated in 1986.


Based on my background in neuroscience after being in our class, what the article says continues to seem true. As teenagers, we are most vulnerable to changes in our neurological pathways. Because puberty happens around these ages (13 and 14) for teens, the changes in brain chemistry result in more influential experiences during that time period. Music is a very emotionally charged sensory stimulant that affects our limbic system and prefrontal cortex. For this reason, it makes sense that music in particular during this time has the greatest influences on teens and what music they listen to in their adulthood. Our prefrontal cortexes and limbic systems are in the middle of their development as adolescents, so again, we are most susceptible to changes in our brain chemistry because music is an emotional stimulant and we can develop synapses more quickly. Therefore, our brain pathways for the rest of our lives really are shaped during puberty and adolescence.


I also read the New York Times article that this article was based on. The author, after doing research, stated that, “the patterns were clear. Even though there is a recognized canon of rock music, there are big differences by birth year in how popular a song is.” After the reading the studies done by NYTimes, it was further evidence of the fact that music taste in adulthood is heavily influenced by what we listen to as teenagers. My personal experiences, background knowledge on neuroscience, and research done by the NYTimes gives substantial evidence that what we listen to as teenagers influences what music we enjoy listening to as adults.

Our Music Taste

As I am not an adult yet, it is a little difficult for me to be able to completely relate with the claim that “the songs we listened to during our teen years set [my] musical taste as an adult”. According to the article, the age where this begins to play a role in your musical taste is between 11 and 14 years old. When I was 11 years old, I absolutely adored Lady Gaga. Although I love her music, my music taste has shifted from the genre she tends to stick to versus to what I listen to now. While her music is more of a pop genre, I now tend to listen more to rap music and reggaeton/salsa – genres that are completely different to what Lady Gaga does. Due to my personal experience with this concept, I personally don’t fully agree with the claim that the author of the article is making – but I can see how it can relate to some people. As a kid, especially during my pre-teen years, I moved around a lot – which exposed me to various cultures. An article by CNN considers the claim that being that your culture has an impact on the type of music you prefer. Having been exposed to so many distinct cultures in my pre-teen years most likely shaped the judgements that I now have on my current musical taste. According a study in 2018 from the University of Rochester Medical Center by two medical reviewers, the frontal lobes (or rational parts of our brains) aren’t fully developed until someone is around age 25, therefore teenagers still have the ability to alter their reasoning and judgements. The evidence provided by the medical center makes me believe that the claim made in the original article on our adult music taste may be slightly faulty due to the fact that teenagers tend to go through a lot of experiences, such as moving in my case, that may have the capacity of altering decision making (ex. choosing music). To summarize, I believe that if you are exposed to a single culture or social environment during your pre-teen years, you are most likely to have the same music taste as an adult than as you did as a child, but being in distinct social contexts, as was I as a pre-teen, resulted in my frontal lobes developing differently than if I were to have grown up in one country my whole life since I needed to adapt to change.

Howard, Jacqueline. “Where Your Taste in Music Comes From.” CNN, Cable News Network, 12 Apr. 2017, Citation

Sather, Rita, and Amit Shelat. “Understanding the Teen Brain .” Ice Packs vs. Warm Compresses For Pain – Health Encyclopedia – University of Rochester Medical Center, 2018, Citation

Ong, Thuy. “Our Musical Tastes Peak as Teens, Says Study.” The Verge, The Verge, 12 Feb. 2018, Citation

Music- Searching for Something Deeper

As I walk around campus or around the city during the day, chances are that I have earphones in to listen to music. Going through a day without the presence of music is becoming increasingly rare for me. Despite today’s hits, the music that always manages to bring me excitement are those with nostalgic vibes from my childhood.

In the small range of years that you and I listen to music as adolescents, the music gradually works to mold and shape who we are,defining not only identities but even personalities and habits. During such an important period, extra caution should be extended to those experiencing first hand the effects of music.

The study done by New York Times analysis exemplifies that  according to the Spotify data analysis, men’s “most important period for forming musical taste is between the ages of 13 to 16” meanwhile “for women, the most important period is between 11 and 14” (The Verge). The plain fact that these adult women continue to adore songs from several decades ago shows the strong influential each song had in a childhood. The conclusion and results from the study did not really surprise me.

The years leading up to and during adolescence are the most influential to an individual. I know for a fact that my time during the latter part of middle school was when I found new interests. Kids my age were always trying to find their “thing.” A study in the U.S. and U.K. illustrates that the brain undergoes massive changes during adolescence, especially in social interaction. Nearly 300 people were continuously scanned from the age of seven, which revealed “dramatic structural changes during adolescence in four regions that help us understand the intentions, beliefs and desires of others, says Kathryn Mills of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience in London” (National Public Radio). She has led many research projects that focus on how the extent of a child’s social environment changes the cognitive and behavioral strategies well past adolescence.

The maturity of the gray matter through the years

So why does the music continue through adulthood? My take on it is that because the brain is still maturing and developing during these years, it is also the time when adolescents are the most impressionable and receptive to new ideas. If you look on the picture, the adolescent brain is still not fully capable of cognitive thinking, so obviously they would be so impressionable at this age. Once they identify with an object, or even song, they would feel a sense of relatability to it. Therefore, hearing the songs even years later will probably induce a sense of familiarity and happiness. I believe these early years should be spent towards curating a healthier outlook. The music that kids choose at this age will probably stick with them to adulthood, where mental support and psychological perceptions of a developing child can take place.


Music Taste Blog

The online article, “Our musical tastes peak as teens, says our study”, is an informative article filled with data and evidence to support what their studies show. The article was published this year and is current, also making the study more reliable. Throughout the article, data was used in order to provide evidence for the point stated. The main argument of the article suggested that during our musical taste as adults is usually derived from the music that we listened to as teenagers. The article provides multiple data that was collected during the study which reinforced not only their main point, but also reinforced my thoughts as to why I believe this article to be true. Throughout our life, our teenage years often ends up becoming one of the most important phases in our life. In a way, our teenage experiences and our teenage mindset become like the foundation that usually shapes the rest of our lives. The experiences we live as teenagers allows us to create our own ideas and thoughts as to how we view the world and how to go on in the world. Our experiences in life affects how we behave and think as we grow older. Because our teens is one of the most influential phases in our lives, I would be accurate that the music that we listen to as teens, affects the music we listen to as adults. As teenagers, we start to make more decisions for ourselves, and because our brain during our teenage years is still under development, our decisions, behaviors, and of course our musical taste becomes the foundation for our adult lives. The fact that our teenage years are one of the most important years of our lives is supported by the article when it states that women’s most important period is between the ages 11 and 14, meanwhile for men it is around the age of 13. Along with this, the argument is also supported by the graph provided by the article, in which it claims that women childhood influences are stronger than mens childhood influence. The article creates a solid argument, which could not only be supported by the data provided, but also by science.

Adolescent Brain – Blog assignment

Blog writing is designed to be well-written and thoughtful. You are encouraged to bring your interests and personality to this assignment. The audience for your posts are your peers so consider the appropriate language, references, etc. when writing your post. Images with text make blogs much more interesting so please consider augmenting your post with pictures or videos (give appropriate credit though).

Please remember this assignment is meant to provide discourse among students with different backgrounds and experiences. You may or may not agree with your colleagues and you can comment to that effect but you may not use language that is offensive or demeaning.

Each student will ultimately contribute to the weekly class blog. There are a number of ways to approach this assignment:

  • What type of article are you reading (opinion, comment on scholarly article, first person narrative, etc.)?
  • How does the reading fit into current or historical context?
  • Do you have an emotional reaction to the article, either positive or negative?
  • Were you surprised by something you read?
  • When reading the article, did you have questions as you read and can you attempt to answer your question?