Here’s an excerpt from an interesting Brainblogger post:
“A study in Critical Care Medicine evaluated the mechanisms of music-induced relaxation in critically ill patients … Researchers found that patients who listened to the sonatas required less medication to achieve a comparable level of sedation, compared to those who didn’t.”
However, they note, that these effects only occurred when listening to Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik as opposed to New Age music.
I wonder, though. It seems there is an inherent assumption that music that relaxes or calms must be of the stereotypical soft and slow works, and so only these are tested. Give the right kind of electronica or even metal music to someone who is acclimated to those flavors and perhaps similar results could be achieved.
It may not be the genre that affects the mind, but rather the state of mind of the composer that is communicated in the notes.