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Metallica Will Shred Your Blues, Columbia Professor Says

By Leslie Albrecht | January 25, 2012 3:58pm
Psychiatrist Galina Mindlin says listening to the right music will make your more alert, happier and focused.
Psychiatrist Galina Mindlin says listening to the right music will make your more alert, happier and focused.
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Irakly Shandize

UPPER WEST SIDE — Blasting Metallica might hurt your ears, but it can help soothe your soul, says an Upper West Side psychiatrist.

In her new book, "Your Playlist Can Change Your Life: 10 Proven Ways Your Favorite Music Can Revolutionize Your Health, Memory, Organization, Alertness and More," Columbia University professor Galina Mindlin and her co-authors Don DuRousseau and Joseph Cardillo reveal how listening to songs with a certain number of beats per minute can trigger specific mental states, such as productivity and relaxation.

"It's [about] how music affects you — how it can improve your memory, how it can relieve anxiety, enhance your mood, how we can use playlists for specific tasks," Mindlin said. "Using music with certain frequencies, you really can create the desired state of mind."

Mindlin says music can help listeners accomplish tasks throughout the day. Listeners can put on one playlist to get revved up for a super-charged day at work, then use other playlists when they need to focus on a specific project, get the most out of their workout, or calm themselves before bed.

Metallica, for example, can chase the blues away, she writes in the book.

Mindlin, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University and supervising attending physician in the department of Psychiatry at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center, said using targeted playlists is a cheap, effective and side-effect-free method for becoming "optimally productive."

"Your Playlist Can Change Your Life" lists sample playlists, but Mindlin cautions that choosing specific tracks is a highly personal exercise. There's no magic list of songs that work for everyone, Mindlin said. Instead listeners should rely on their own tastes in music and pay close attention to how songs make them feel.

"What's right for you might not be right for someone else," Mindlin said. "Some people love the classical genre, but some people get excited by pop. The idea is to activate as many brain areas as you can."

One playlist in the book lists songs with 100 to 130 beats per minute for achieving high alertness when you need to focus on an important work project. Sample tunes in that category include "Pride (In the Name of Love) by U2, "Lady Madonna" by the Beatles, "Goodbye Earl" by the Dixie Chicks, "Sweet Dreams" by Marilyn Manson and "Don't Phunk with My Heart" by the Black Eyed Peas.

When Mindlin wants to calm down, she listens to "Imagine" by John Lennon. When she wants to build up more energy, she uses the songs "Uprising" and "Guiding Light" by the British band Muse. For exercise, she listens to David Guetta's "Without You" and LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It."

DNAinfo quizzed some Manhattanites about their personal music playlists.

Mario Paredes, a 21-year-old Washington Heights resident, was preparing himself for work with Kryptonite playing in his ears

“It makes me feel strong,” he said. “It makes me work faster and better.”

Like Mindlin suggests, Paredes uses music to remedy his moods, such as Rhianna’s “We Found Love” to calm him if he feels angry.

“I usually go the whole way and pump up the volume,” he said. “I just want to focus on that song.”

Luis Oliverios, a 30-year-old Midtown West resident, linked his relaxation music by French composer Claude Debussy to the closing scene of film "Ocean’s Eleven."

“They are just relaxing and watching the fountain in Vegas,” he said.  In the scene, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Matt Damon contemplate the fountain outside the Bellagio casino after successfully completing a heist while Debussy’s "Clair de Lune" is played.

Mindlin founded the Brain Music Treatment Center on West 58th Street, where patients have their own brain waves recorded and transformed into sounds that they then listen to as a way to soothe or energize themselves.

Not everyone can afford the Brain Music Treatment Center's pricey personalized treatment, but music can accomplish roughly the same goals, Mindlin explained. She wrote "Your Playlist Can Change Your Life" because she wanted to bring the center's method to a wider audience.

Mindlin said one patient who was a B student improved her grades to all A's after switching the type of music she listened to when she studied. Music can also be very effective for patients with ADHD whose brains enter a slow, dreamlike state when they're overwhelmed by several tasks, Mindlin said. By listening to fast-frequency music, they can bring their brain back to a productive state, Mindlin said.

"Everybody can do it and everybody should do it," Mindlin added. "It's a remedy without any side effects."