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 large number and diversity of music styles. But it would be safe to assume that your favorite song most likely elicits an intense emotional reaction.

When people talk about their favorite music, they typically describe it as occasionally giving them “the chills.” You’ve likely experienced this with your favorite music. But the interesting part is that experiencing this phenomenon is not reliant on any one kind of music.

Researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute had participants bring in their favorite music. While each participant identified an intense emotional response, the music genres ranged from classical to jazz to punk. With so much diversity, what was responsible for this fundamental emotional response?

The answer, as it turns out, 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 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 linked to dopamine, and dopamine to motivation, but the music itself is less significant than the emotional reaction it brings about. This leads to some potent implications.

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

So what type of music should you go with to attain these positive emotional reactions? The primary insight from the aforementioned research is that it is dependent solely on your preferences. The music can be joyful, sad, upbeat, slow, instrumental, classical, rock, or hip-hop. The trick is taking stock of the emotional responses you obtain from different songs and genres.

Once you understand how you respond viscerally to certain songs, you can utilize those songs to arouse the desired emotional reaction, producing the ideal emotional state for each scenario.

For instance, if rock ‘n’ roll gets you pumped up and inspired for a workout, you may want to listen to your favorite Metallica record while heading to the gym. In contrast, if you’re looking to loosen up 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 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, 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 reactions or particular moods for you?