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What’s your favorite song?

Without knowing you, it would be hard for me to guess, due to the large number and variety of music genres. But it would be safe for me to assume that your favorite song most likely brings about an intense emotional reaction.

When people describe their favorite music, they often describe it as occasionally giving them “the chills.” You’ve probably observed this with your favorite music. But the fascinating part is that experiencing this feeling is not reliant on any one kind of music.

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

The answer, as it so happens, is dopamine. Scientists at McGill University uncovered 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. 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 significant than the psychological reaction it creates. This leads to some compelling implications.

Let’s take another look at your favorite song. Has it ever given you “the chills” or produced a intense emotional response? If yes, you’ve just discovered one of the best ways to release more dopamine into your system, which is a life hack for positivity and inspiration.

So what kind of music should you listen to attain these positive emotional reactions? The primary insight from the above research is that it depends completely on your preferences. The music can be joyful, gloomy, upbeat, slow, instrumental, classical, rock, or hip-hop. The secret is taking stock of the emotional reactions you obtain from different songs and genres.

Once you understand how you react viscerally to particular songs, you can use those songs to elicit the sought after emotional reaction, producing the most effective emotional state for each situation.

For instance, if heavy metal gets you pumped up and energized for a gym session, you may want to listen to your favorite Metallica record while heading to the gym. In contrast, if you’re hoping to relax after a chaotic 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 take advantage 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 genres elicit strong reactions or particular moods for you?

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