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What’s your favorite song?

Without knowing you, it would be tough for me to guess, due to the large number and variety of music styles. But it would be safe to assume that your favorite song probably elicits an intense emotional response.

When people talk about their favorite music, they regularly describe it as occasionally giving them “the chills.” You’ve probably observed this with your favorite music. But the intriguing part is that experiencing this sensation is not reliant on any one genre of music.

Researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute had participants bring in their favorite music. While each participant depicted an intense emotional reaction, 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 so happens, is dopamine. Scientists at McGill University discovered a direct connection between the elation generated by music and the discharge of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain.

Dopamine is a chemical released in the brain that influences 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 linked to dopamine, and dopamine to motivation, but the music itself is less important than the psychological reaction it brings about. This leads to some compelling implications.

Let’s revisit your favorite song. Has it ever given you “the chills” or produced a intense emotional reaction? If yes, you’ve just identified one of the most effective 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 achieve these positive emotional reactions? The major insight from the aforementioned research is that it depends completely on your preferences. The music can be joyful, gloomy, upbeat, slow, instrumental, classical, rock, or hip-hop. The trick is taking stock of the emotional reactions you obtain from various songs and genres.

Once you know how you respond viscerally to certain songs, you can use those songs to bring about the desired emotional reaction, producing the optimal emotional state for each scenario.

For example, if heavy metal gets you pumped up and motivated for a workout, 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 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 take advantage 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 bring about strong reactions or particular moods for you?