How Your Favorite Music Can Affect Your Mood
What’s your favorite song?
Without knowing you, it would be almost impossible for me to guess, due to the large number and variety of music styles. But it would be safe to assume that your favorite song most likely brings about a strong emotional response.
When people describe their favorite music, they generally describe it as occasionally giving them “the chills.” You’ve probably observed this with your favorite music. But the intriguing part is that experiencing this phenomenon is not reliant on any one genre of music.
Researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute had participants bring in their favorite music. Although each participant reported 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 discovered a direct link between the elation generated by music and the discharge of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain.
Dopamine is a chemical released in the brain that affects 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 associated with dopamine, and dopamine to motivation, but the music itself is less significant than the psychological reaction it brings about. This leads to some compelling implications.
Let’s return to your favorite song. Has it ever given you “the chills” or created a intense emotional response? If so, you’ve just discovered one of the most effective methods to release more dopamine into your system, which is a brain hack for positivity and motivation.
So what kind of music should you listen to achieve these positive emotional reactions? The main insight from the above research is that it depends completely on your tastes. The music can be joyful, sad, upbeat, slow, instrumental, classical, rock, or hip-hop. The secret is taking inventory of the emotional reactions you receive from various songs and genres.
Once you understand how you react viscerally to certain songs, you can make use of those songs to bring about the sought after emotional reaction, producing the optimal emotional state for each situation.
As an example, if rock ‘n’ roll gets you pumped up and stimulated for a workout, you may want to listen to your favorite Metallica album while heading to the gym. On the other hand, if you’re looking to loosen up after a hectic 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 songs 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 elicit strong responses or specific moods for you?