What’s your favorite song?
Without knowing you, it would be difficult for me to guess, due to the number and range of music genres. But it would be safe for me to assume that your favorite song most likely brings about a strong emotional response.
When people talk about their favorite music, they regularly describe it as occasionally giving them “the chills.” You’ve most likely experienced this with your favorite music. But the intriguing part is that experiencing this sensation is not reliant on any one type of music.
Researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute had participants bring in their favorite music. Even though each participant documented an intense emotional response, the music genres themselves ranged from classical to jazz to punk rock. With so much diversity, what was responsible for this underlying emotional response?
The answer, as it so happens, is dopamine. Scientists at McGill University uncovered a direct connection between the elation produced by music and the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine.
Dopamine is a chemical released in the brain that has an effect on 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 associated with dopamine, and dopamine to motivation, but the music itself is less important than the psychological reaction it brings about. This leads to some potent implications.
Let’s return to your favorite song. Has it ever given you “the chills” or produced a strong emotional reaction? If yes, you’ve just identified one of the most effective means to release more dopamine into your system, which is a life hack for positivity and motivation.
So what kind of music should you go with to achieve these positive emotional responses? The chief insight from the above research is that it is dependent entirely on your preferences. The music can be joyful, gloomy, upbeat, slow, instrumental, classical, rock, or hip-hop. The secret is taking stock of the emotional reactions you receive from various songs and genres.
Once you understand how you respond viscerally to certain songs, you can use those songs to bring about the desired emotional reaction, producing the most effective emotional state for each situation.
For instance, if rock ‘n’ roll gets you pumped up and motivated for a gym session, you may want to listen to your favorite Metallica album while heading to the gym. Conversely, if you’re hoping to loosen up after a chaotic 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 make the most of this research.
Simply dial in your favorite tracks 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 genres bring about strong responses or specific moods for you?