Mikaila Tombe standing outside in front of some bushes on a clear blue day smiling at the camera

How does music affect the mind?

March 24, 2023
Author: Eric Zimmer

Mikaila Tombe is researching why people respond the way they do to different types of music.

When Mikaila Tombe began her post-secondary career, she was initially unsure what to do with her degree. Now, she’s combining her interests and talents into a new study for her undergraduate thesis.

A fourth-year VIU Psychology honours student and a musician, Mikaila has always been interested in the reasons behind why people respond the way they do to certain types of music.

“Music is such a subjective experience and it holds powerful learning and therapeutic mechanisms for people of all ages,” she says. 

She began working as a research assistant in Psychology Professor Dr. Marla Morden’s lab in January 2022 and “quickly got the research bug.” Her research project was inspired by her interest in the diverse mental and emotional benefits of music.

Mikaila says the research project itself involves two parts. The first study looks at people’s emotional reactions and mood responses to different types of music while considering the mental health of each participant. The second study uses musical clips chosen from the first study to investigate the interactions between these responses to music and different types of cognitive learning processes.” She is beginning to recruit participants for the second study.

Her hope is that her research will offer some insight on “how different types of music genres impact one’s arousal and mood levels” and how this corresponds to performance on cognitive attention tasks where a person is required to mentally process new information.

Mikaila believes her findings could also add to a growing body of literature and “give insight to certain variables that are not always considered in these types of music-cognition studies, such as mental health.”

Those who would like to get involved in Mikaila’s study can do so by taking the online survey until April 4.

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