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 genres. But it would be safe for me to assume that your favorite song probably 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 experienced this with your favorite music. But the fascinating part is that experiencing this phenomenon is not reliant on any one type of music.

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

The answer, as it turns out, is dopamine. Scientists at McGill University uncovered a direct link between the elation created by music and the discharge 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 linked to dopamine, and dopamine to motivation, but the music itself is less important than the emotional response it creates. This leads to some potent implications.

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

So what type of music should you go with to achieve these positive emotional reactions? The key insight from the aforementioned research is that it is dependent completely on your preferences. The music can be happy, sad, upbeat, slow, instrumental, classical, rock, or rap. The trick is taking inventory of the emotional reactions you receive from different songs and genres.

Once you know how you respond viscerally to specific songs, you can utilize those songs to solicit 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 energized for a gym session, 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 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 straight to your hearing aids. This puts you in a unique position to take advantage 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 genres elicit strong responses or particular moods for you?