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What’s your favorite song?

Without knowing you, it would be difficult for me to guess, due to the number and range of music genres. But it would be safe to assume that your favorite song probably elicits an intense emotional reaction.

When people talk about their favorite music, they generally describe it as occasionally giving them “the chills.” You’ve most likely 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 identified an intense emotional response, the music genres ranged from classical to jazz to punk. With so much variety, what was responsible for this underlying emotional reaction?

The answer, as it turns out, is dopamine. Scientists at McGill University discovered a direct link between the elation produced by music and the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain.

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 tied to 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 go back to your favorite song. Has it ever given you “the chills” or created a strong emotional reaction? If so, 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 genre of music should you go with to attain these positive emotional responses? The main insight from the above research is that it is dependent entirely on your preferences. The music can be joyful, gloomy, upbeat, slow, instrumental, classical, rock, or rap. The trick is taking inventory of the emotional reactions you obtain from various songs and genres.

Once you understand how you respond viscerally to certain songs, you can make use of those songs to elicit the desired emotional reaction, producing the optimal emotional state for each scenario.

For instance, if rock ‘n’ roll gets you pumped up and stimulated for a workout, you may want to listen to your favorite Metallica album while heading to the gym. In contrast, if you’re hoping to relax after a hectic 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 an exceptional position to reap the benefits of this research.

Simply dial in your favorite music 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 music genres bring about strong reactions or particular moods for you?

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