Center For Better Hearing - Glens Falls, NY

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 genres. But it would be safe for me to assume that your favorite song probably brings about a strong emotional reaction.

When people describe their favorite music, they typically describe it as sometimes giving them “the chills.” You’ve likely experienced this with your favorite music. But the intriguing part is that experiencing this feeling 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 diversity, what was responsible for this fundamental emotional response?

The answer, as it so happens, is dopamine. Scientists at McGill University found 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 influences 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 emotional response it produces. This leads to some powerful implications.

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

So what genre of music should you listen to achieve these positive emotional responses? The major insight from the above research is that it depends completely on your preferences. 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 various songs and genres.

Once you understand how you respond viscerally to certain songs, you can use those songs to bring about the sought after emotional reaction, producing the optimal emotional state for each scenario.

As an example, if rock ‘n’ roll gets you pumped up and energized for a gym session, you may want to listen to your favorite Metallica album while heading to the gym. In contrast, if you’re trying to relax after a busy day at the office, perhaps the best of Beethoven is the way to go.

And last, if you have hearing loss, consider that the latest hearing aid technology that can stream music wirelessly from portable devices straight 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, 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 particular moods for you?

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