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The 5 Weirdest Ways Music Can Mess With the Human Brain

#2.
It Changes Your Drinking Habits

Did you ever wake up in the back of a taxi after a long night of tossing down cognac and prune juice and wonder how your pants got replaced by a thick but clumsily applied coat of colorful body paint? Well, now there's something to blame it on besides your bad childhood: music.

What they play in the bar doesn't just affect how much you drink, but what you drink.


Nothing goes with Lady Gaga like cheap, awful tequila.

How the hell does music do that?

Did you know you can make a person buy more expensive wine just by playing classical music? Experiments prove it. It makes people feel like they're in a wine commercial or in a movie depicting refined, snooty rich people. OK, that one sort of makes sense -- we doubt anyone ever drank Wild Irish Rose while listening to Vivaldi.

But in another blind study, different types of music playing in the background caused drinkers to change how they'd described the drinks they already had. Laid-back music led people to rate drinks as "mellow," and upbeat music resulted in more people calling their drinks "refreshing." Even stranger, in another study researchers placed German and French wines in supermarkets, with small flags next to each display so customers could tell which countries they came from. They then played some unobtrusive international music in the background. When German music was played, the percentage of German sales rose, and vice versa.


Listening to this would inspire us to drink, too.

This wasn't because customers thought to themselves, Ah! Germany! I will celebrate the Fatherland with some nice wine! Questionnaires showed that customers couldn't recall what type of music was playing and thought they'd chosen a particular wine simply because they'd felt like it.

The people selling you the drinks know all of this stuff -- or at least, the successful ones do. We've pointed out before that bars and nightclubs often play fast music to increase alcohol-based profit. But other establishments, particularly upscale restaurants, prefer slow, relaxing music, which, believe it or not, can also make you drink more. The tempo of music is linked to your body's arousal level, or the "speed" at which your nervous system operates. Fast music heightens arousal (heh), so patrons will do everything more quickly, including eating and drinking and leaving their infant by the salad bar. Which is good for a restaurant owner if he's just concerned with getting you out the door so he can serve more (and presumably better) people.


"Here's the check. You have exactly seven minutes to fuck off."

On the other hand, slower music means that you eat at a more leisurely pace. Maybe you'll even stay to chat with your companions after you're done with your meal. All this time passing means you're likely to buy more drinks every time the waiter comes around to ask, and at a restaurant that's charging $70 a bottle, that makes up for any lost table space.

Some restaurants go as far as to purchase a personalized selection of songs specially designed by "sound branding" companies, which select songs based on whatever tempo or atmosphere the restaurant is aiming to achieve.


Italian goes down better with GWAR.

#1.
It Makes You a Better Communicator

How does a narcissistic ass like John Mayer, who isn't even that attractive, still have hot women of all ages throwing themselves at him? It's the guitar, isn't it?


Acoustic guitars: Getting douchebags laid since 1100 C.E.

Actually, a trained musician like Mayer would probably be able to talk a woman into his bed without ever even playing a note. It turns out that studying music gives you an advantage when it comes to perceiving the emotions of others, so all those years of being chained to a piano as a child are finally going to work in your favor.


You'll have to find something else to resent your mother over.

People who can play instruments at near-professional level can detect subtle emotional changes and intonations in the vocal tones of others. In other words, they know whether you are actually sad when you say you're fine, even when most non-musicians would have no idea. Not only that, but the fact that they studied music makes them better able to tune out background noise, so they are even better at paying attention to what you are saying in that crowded restaurant or bar.

How the hell does music do that?

Research shows that people who have studied music actually have brains wired differently than non-musicians. This rewiring makes them better able to express emotions they are feeling, but it also makes them more able to understand the emotions others express. Music is very emotional, and people wired to understand those subtle emotional changes can also detect them in the vocal tones of someone talking. The emotion of the music translates to knowing when your boss is secretly mad or your mother is secretly disappointed.


Although let's be honest -- her disappointment has never been a secret.

The sooner you start learning music, the more pronounced this re-wiring is. Scientists think that teaching children music might help kids with autism better understand vocal cues and encode speech. The fact that this brain re-wiring helps them tune out background noise could also help kids stay focused in noisy classrooms. It is also something that gets better the more you play, so sticking to your piano lessons now could lead to a powerful advantage in your future dating world.


"I literally have a forest of vaginas waiting for me in my hotel room."

To learn how else you can secretly manipulate people, pick up our new book.

For more information on the power of music, check out 7 Insane Ways Music Affects the Body (According to Science). Or learn about other musicians who have seas of vaginas in their hotel rooms, in The 6 Most Atrocious Uses of Facial Hair in Music History.

And stop by Linkstorm to see how all the folks at Cracked are coming along on their "Body is a Wonderland" training.

And don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get sexy, sexy jokes sent straight to your news feed.

Do you have an idea in mind that would make a great article? Then sign up for our writers workshop! Do you possess expert skills in image creation and manipulation? Mediocre? Even rudimentary? Are you frightened by MS Paint and simply have a funny idea? You can create an infograpic and you could be on the front page of Cracked.com tomorrow!

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