Can Your Favorite Music Influence Your Mood?

woman listening to music smiling

What’s your favorite song?

Without knowing you, it would be almost impossible for me to guess, due to the number and range of music styles. But it would be safe for me to assume that your favorite song probably elicits a strong emotional reaction.

When people talk about their favorite music, they frequently describe it as sometimes giving them “the chills.” You’ve probably experienced this with your favorite music. But the interesting part is that experiencing this sensation is not dependent on any one genre of music.

Researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute had participants bring in their favorite music. Even though each participant depicted 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 turns out, is dopamine. Scientists at McGill University uncovered a direct link between the elation produced by music and the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Dopamine is a chemical substance 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 important than the psychological reaction it brings about. This leads to some powerful implications.

Let’s revisit your favorite song. Has it ever given you “the chills” or provided a powerful emotional reaction? If so, you’ve just discovered one of the best ways to release more dopamine into your system, which is a life hack for positivity and motivation.

So what type of music should you listen to achieve these positive emotional reactions? The key 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 responses you obtain from various songs and genres.

Once you know how you respond viscerally to particular songs, you can use those songs to solicit the sought after emotional reaction, producing the ideal emotional state for each situation.

As an example, if heavy metal 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 trying to loosen up 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 an exceptional position to reap the benefits 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 genres bring about strong reactions or particular moods for you?

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