woman listening to music smiling

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 probably brings about an intense emotional response.

When people talk about their favorite music, they regularly describe it as sometimes giving them “the chills.” You’ve probably 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 described 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 response?

The answer, as it so happens, is dopamine. Scientists at McGill University uncovered a direct connection between the elation created by music and the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Dopamine is a chemical released in the brain that influences 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 important than the psychological response it brings about. This leads to some powerful implications.

Let’s return to your favorite song. Has it ever given you “the chills” or created a powerful emotional response? If so, you’ve just discovered one of the most effective means to release more dopamine into your system, which is a brain hack for positivity and inspiration.

So what type of music should you go with to realize these positive emotional reactions? The principal insight from the aforementioned research is that it depends entirely on your preferences. The music can be happy, gloomy, upbeat, slow, instrumental, classical, rock, or hip-hop. The trick is taking inventory of the emotional responses you receive from various songs and genres.

Once you know how you respond viscerally to specific songs, you can use those songs to solicit the desired emotional reaction, producing the most effective emotional state for each scenario.

For instance, if rock ‘n’ roll 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. Conversely, if you’re hoping to unwind after a busy 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 an exceptional 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 music genres elicit strong reactions or specific moods for you?

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