18 October 2011

get your dopamine movin'

I've always wondered why music makes people feel better, and in particular music that you like, or upbeat happy songs.
It's dopamine.
When you listen to music you like, your brain releases dopamine, which is a chemical that is involved with addictions. Don't panic, you won't get addicted to music or anything.
But there was this cool study I read about on Discovery.com about how music affects your brain. A bunch of scientists asked their subjects to bring their favorite music, music that "gives them chills", and they injected the subjects with dopamine receptors. If the receptors received the dopamine, and closed, the music worked on their minds. If they remained open, no dopamine was being released. And in all of the subjects, they found that the dopamine was released, since they could see through a PET scan that the dopamine receptors had closed.
However, it didn't work for people who picked music they didn't love very much.
Also, people who didn't really listen to much music didn't get affected as much.
But for me, music is probably the best way to get out of a bad mood, or to drag out sadness. Because sometimes if things are going bad, you just want to feel sad.
Either way, humans have been living with this biological instinct ever since we were a species. We've been reacting to music we like in this exact same way. So it's cool that we are still doing some of the same things as our ancient counterparts.
Sometimes bad moods and terrible days seem insurmountable. But maybe you can find that one song to get you through the day. Something to get that dopamine moving.

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