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A Study of Psychoacoustics

Anthony R. Gonzalez

It is noted that music possesses a correlation to psychological and emotional states of

being. Music is produced by various notes coming together to create a relationship in

which there is a progression. How is it that an array of sounds is capable of triggering

such a profound effect on humans? The effects of sound on a human can be divided into

two forms: Psychological and Neurological. This division is not created to entirely

separate the two; that is impossible due to their relationship. However, while these two

are rooted together, they are rather distinct. Their relationship can bet noted as below:

S>N

N>P

S represents the initial sound created and processed by the brain.

N represents the Neurological (physical) effect that this sound has on the brain.

P represents the Psychological (subjective) aspect that is a result of N.

For a basic understanding of how sound works, sound is created as a vibration

from an object. That vibration then causes the nearby air molecules to vibrate which in

turn causes the other air molecules to vibrate in the form of a wave. Sound travels faster

in a water medium due to the distance between molecules being closer than they are in

air.

In the brain, there are chemicals that can alter the emotions of individuals. For

example, certain neurotransmitters such as endorphin can create the feeling of euphoria
when produced. Sound can create biological chemical reactions which in turn affect the

individual’s emotional state. Sound waves (pitch, harmony, rhythm, melodies) are

perceived by the right auditory cortex as shown below: