HEARING TIPS

The Link Between Music, Mood, and Motivation

woman listening to music smiling

What’s your favorite song?

Without knowing you, it would be difficult 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 most likely elicits an intense emotional reaction.

When people describe their favorite music, they often describe it as occasionally giving them “the chills.” You’ve 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 documented an intense emotional reaction, the music genres themselves ranged from classical to jazz to punk. With so much diversity, what was responsible for this fundamental emotional reaction?

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 substance released in the brain that has an effect on 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 tied to dopamine, and dopamine to motivation, but the music itself is less important than the psychological response it brings about. This leads to some powerful implications.

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

So what kind of music should you go with to attain these positive emotional reactions? The primary insight from the aforementioned research is that it is dependent completely on your tastes. The music can be joyful, sad, upbeat, slow, instrumental, classical, rock, or rap. The trick is taking stock of the emotional reactions you obtain from various songs and genres.

Once you know how you respond viscerally to particular songs, you can use those songs to solicit the desired emotional reaction, producing the ideal emotional state for each situation.

For example, if rock ‘n’ roll gets you pumped up and stimulated for a gym session, you may want to listen to your favorite Metallica album while heading to the gym. Conversely, if you’re hoping 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 directly to your hearing aids. This puts you in a unique position to reap the benefits 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 bring about strong reactions or specific moods for you?

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