What’s your favorite song?
Without knowing you, it would be difficult for me to guess, due to the number and variety of music genres. But it would be safe to assume that your favorite song probably brings about a strong emotional response.
When people talk about their favorite music, they generally describe it as occasionally giving them “the chills.” You’ve probably observed this with your favorite music. But the interesting part is that experiencing this phenomenon is not dependent on any one genre of music.
Researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute had participants bring in their favorite music. Although each participant identified an intense emotional reaction, the music genres themselves ranged from classical to jazz to punk rock. With so much variety, what was responsible for this underlying emotional reaction?
The answer, as it turns out, is dopamine. Scientists at McGill University found a direct link between the elation created by music and the discharge of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain.
Dopamine is a chemical substance released in the brain that has an effect on emotional regulation, pleasure, and rewards. According to 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 significant than the emotional reaction it produces. This leads to some compelling implications.
Let’s go back to your favorite song. Has it ever given you “the chills” or produced a powerful emotional reaction? If yes, you’ve just identified one of the best ways to release more dopamine into your system, which is a brain hack for positivity and motivation.
So what kind of music should you go with to attain these positive emotional reactions? The major insight from the above research is that it is dependent solely on your tastes. The music can be happy, sad, upbeat, slow, instrumental, classical, rock, or hip-hop. The trick is taking stock of the emotional responses you receive from different songs and genres.
Once you understand how you react viscerally to specific songs, you can use those songs to solicit the sought after emotional reaction, producing the most effective emotional state for each scenario.
As an example, if heavy metal gets you pumped up and stimulated for a gym session, you may want to listen to your favorite Metallica album while heading to the gym. On the other hand, if you’re hoping to relax after a stressful day at the office, perhaps the best of Beethoven is the approach to take.
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 reap the benefits of this research.
Simply dial in your favorite music on your phone or portable device, deliver it wirelessly to your hearing aids, and let the dopamine start flowing.
By the way, what is your favorite song? And which songs or genres bring about strong reactions or specific moods for you?