I always thought that music make me happier but I didn’t know why. I have been reading a lot about the physiological effects of music lately and came across some interesting discoveries. So I made a list of 3 ways music affects the brain to make us happier. I hope you find it as interesting as I did.
- Dopamine – It has been scientifically proven that at the moments before a climax in music or when you feel chills when listening to a song, the brain releases dopamine. Dopamine gives us the feeling of reward and it is often felt before getting high or to motivate us to find food or shelter. Lucas Reilly writes —
About 50 percent of people get chills when listening to music . . . because music stimulates an ancient reward pathway in the brain, encouraging dopamine to flood the striatum—a part of the forebrain activated by addiction, reward, and motivation. Music, it seems, may affect our brains the same way that sex, gambling, and potato chips do.” (Reilly, Lucas. “Why Does Music Give Us Chills?” Mental Floss. 02 Aug 2016. Web. 06 Dec 2016.)
- Prolactin – Prolactin is a hormone that aids relief to us when we are feeling sad; therefore, sometimes when we are listening to sad music one may actually feel better afterwords. I found an interesting article below on this very topic:
Research has suggested that sad music plays a role in emotional regulation. It evokes pleasant emotions such as bliss and awe, along with sadness, and is more likely than happy music to arouse the intensely pleasurable responses referred to as “chills.” Accompanied by the release of . . . prolactin, associated with social bonding and nurturance, sad music can facilitate recovering positive mood.” (Batcho, Krystine I. Ph.D, “Why We Love Sad Songs.” Batcho, Krystine I. Ph.D, “Why We Love SadSongs.” Psychology Today,05 Jan. 2015. Web. 06 Dec. 2016, 05 Jan. 2015. Web. 06 Dec. 2016)
- Endorphins – Listening to music itself doesn’t seem to produce endorphins but singing, dancing, and playing air guitar does. Also bonding with others while doing these activities is like receiving a double shot of positive vibes. Endorphins reduce our perception of pain and stress. Here is what a study at Oxford observed:
We show that singing, dancing and drumming all trigger endorphin release (indexed by an increase in post-activity pain tolerance).” (Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3UD, UK. email@example.com. “Performance of music elevates pain threshold and positive affect: implications for the evolutionary function of music.”, NCBI, 22 Oct. 2012. Web. 06 Dec. 2016.)
As technology develops, we can see clearer how music effects brain. From a historical perspective, music is such an ancient bond that has been passed down through countless generations. Some say music is not necessary for survival, but based on the physiological affects it has on us, maybe it is necessity.
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For fun, I put my songs up to the chemical brain test. Here is what songs I think create what chemicals. What do you think?
Rescue Car: Endorphins (fast lots of energy, makes me want to dance)
Unseen: Dopamine (Lots of build ups)
Words: Endorphins (fast lots of energy, makes me want to dance)
Modern Life: Prolactin (Personal and somewhat sad)
Say What You Mean: Prolactin (Personal and somewhat sad)