What’s your favorite song?
Without knowing you, it would be almost impossible for me to guess, due to the large number and diversity of music styles. But it would be safe to assume that your favorite song most likely brings about a strong emotional response.
When people talk about their favorite music, they often describe it as sometimes giving them “the chills.” You’ve probably experienced this with your favorite music. But the fascinating part is that experiencing this phenomenon is not reliant on any one type of music.
Researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute had participants bring in their favorite music. Although each participant reported an intense emotional response, the music genres themselves ranged from classical to jazz to punk. With so much diversity, what was responsible for this underlying emotional reaction?
The answer, as it turns out, is dopamine. Scientists at McGill University found a direct connection between the elation created by music and the discharge of the neurotransmitter dopamine.
Dopamine is a chemical substance released in the brain that affects emotional regulation, pleasure, and rewards. As reported by Richard Depue, professor at Cornell University: “When our dopamine system is activated, we are more positive, excited and eager to go after goals or rewards, such as food, sex, money, education or professional achievements.”
So music is linked to dopamine, and dopamine to motivation, but the music itself is less important than the emotional reaction it brings about. This leads to some powerful implications.
Let’s return to your favorite song. Has it ever given you “the chills” or produced a intense emotional response? If yes, you’ve just discovered one of the best ways to release more dopamine into your system, which is a brain hack for positivity and inspiration.
So what type of music should you listen to achieve these positive emotional reactions? The main insight from the aforementioned research is that it is dependent completely on your tastes. The music can be joyful, gloomy, upbeat, slow, instrumental, classical, rock, or rap. The trick is taking inventory of the emotional reactions you obtain from different songs and genres.
Once you understand how you respond viscerally to specific songs, you can use those songs to elicit the sought after emotional reaction, producing the ideal emotional state for each scenario.
As an example, if rock ‘n’ roll gets you pumped up and motivated for a workout, you may want to listen to your favorite Metallica CD while heading to the gym. On the other hand, if you’re trying to loosen up after a hectic day at the office, perhaps the best of Beethoven is the way to go.
And last, if you have hearing loss, consider that the latest hearing aid technology that can stream music wirelessly from portable devices directly to your hearing aids. This puts you in a unique position to make the most of this research.
Simply dial in your favorite songs on your phone or portable device, send it wirelessly to your hearing aids, and let the dopamine start flowing.
By the way, what is your favorite song? And which songs or music genres elicit strong reactions or specific moods for you?